Taranaki's hemispherical coast collects 180 degrees of ocean swells. You can be almost certain that the surf will be pumping between New Plymouth and Hawera.
If you've never learned to ride a wave, join a surf school or try tandem surfing (they guarantee to get you on your feet in the first session or your money back!).
But waves aren't the only reason to follow this touring route - the Taranaki/Egmont National Park is always within reach, with tracks to take you up and around magnificent Mount Taranaki. This region also has an enviable collection of galleries, artists' studios and beautifully manicured gardens.
The spectacular Surf Highway 45 is a windy road and drivers are advised to be familar with driving in New Zealand before embarking on this road trip.
Day 1 / 4
If you're here to surf, spend today exploring the beaches around New Plymouth. Hailed one of the best mid-city surf spots in the world, Fitzroy beach is renowned for hollow waves. On the southern edge of New Plymouth is Back Beach, which overlooks Sugar Loaf Marine Park and offers great swells on the shifting sand banks.
If you'd prefer a hike, head for Mount Taranaki, which sits at the centre of Egmont National Park. It has a comprehensive network of hiking tracks to suit all abilities. If you want to climb to the summit, it's recommended you go with a guide - weather conditions can change very suddenly.
For something less physical but no less memorable, check out Puke Ariki Museum, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and Pukekura Park, before wandering along the Coastal Walkway. Look out for the 45m kinetic artwork known as the Wind Wand, a local icon produced by artist Len Lye.
In the rhododendron season, New Plymouth's parks and gardens are beautiful to behold. Alternatively, pull on your hiking boots and explore Mount Taranaki.
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