Taranaki activities to add to the bucket list!
Looking to get off the tourist trail? Looking to find some true hidden gems in New Zealand? Uncrowded surf beaches, breathtaking volcanic and forest landscapes, lush gardens, thought-provoking museums and art galleries, real Kiwi small towns… This can all be found in the North Island’s Taranaki region on the west coast! Find out how with this list of things to do in Taranaki!
1. Explore the Egmont National Park
At the centre of the Taranaki region lies Mt Taranaki and the iconic Egmont National Park. A wealth of landscapes can be experienced through the expansive walking trails throughout the park, with highlights being a short walk to Dawson Falls, the spectacular Pouakai Crossing day hike or the multi-day adventure the Pouakai Circuit. Find out more about the walks in the national park with our 6 Hikes You Have to Do in Egmont National Park!
Location: Egmont National Park
2. Visit Puke Ariki
Aside from glorious landscapes, Taranaki is also known to be a region rich in history and culture. A great place to start learning all about it is at the regional museum, Puke Ariki. This free-entry museum in New Plymouth has captivating and interactive displays covering Taranaki’s volcanic landscape formation, the Maori history and Taranaki’s pioneering heritage. Find out more about this museum and others in our 10 Best Galleries & Museums in Taranaki.
Location: 1 Ariki Street, New Plymouth
3. Do a road trip down Surf Highway 45
You haven’t explored Taranaki until you have been down Surf Highway 45! This 105km stretch of road between New Plymouth and Hawera captures some epic surf waves on uncrowded beaches, cosy cafes, characterful towns, historic pa sites (Maori villages), the magnificent Cape Egmont Lighthouse and much more. Get inspired with our 18 Places to Stop at on Taranaki’s Surf Highway 45
Location: State Highway 45 between New Plymouth and Hawera
4. See New Zealand’s only glockenspiel
Probably Taranaki’s quirkiest attraction, the Glockenspiel is the pride of Stratford town. The town is named after the hometown of William Shakespeare, which is commemorated by a giant clocktower glockenspiel which performs “Romeo and Juliet” at 10am, 1pm, 3pm and 7pm each day. Check out more things to do in Stratford here.
Location: Broadway, Stratford
5. Discover the Forgotten World Highway
Another fabulous road trip in the Taranaki area awaits down the mysterious and isolated Forgotten World Highway. Follow New Zealand’s oldest heritage trail to highlights like the Republic of Whangamomona, the stunning Tangarakau Gorge, rugged tunnels, waterfalls and much more. Find out more about this 155km road between Stratford and Taumarunui at 15 Places You Can’t Miss on the Forgotten World Highway.
Location: State Highway 43 between Stratford and Taumarunui
6. Wander around Pukekura Park
Another highlight of the region is Taranaki’s abundance of vibrant parks and gardens. While we could recommend a whole bunch, which we do in 10 Must-See Parks & Gardens in Taranaki, Pukekura Park in New Plymouth is one of the most popular. The botanical wonderland has a number of walks meandering around a lake, to a waterfall, a historic tea house, a zoo, Japanese gardens, a fernery, children’s playground and much much more!
Location: Fillis Street, New Plymouth
7. Walk and watch the birds at Lake Rotokare
Just outside the town of Eltham is another natural paradise, Lake Rotokare. It’s one of the best places in the region to go bird-watching thanks to the predator-proof fence around the reserve. See what you can spot on the 1-2-hour Rotokare Walk! For more Eltham inspiration, see 8 Fun Things to Do in Eltham.
Location: Rotokare Road, 12km from Eltham
8. Visit Aotea Utanganui – The Museum of South Taranaki
The South Taranaki district holds many hidden gems, one of which is Aotea Utanganui! This well-appointed museum in Patea holds some of the oldest wooden relics found in New Zealand, from Maori waka (canoes) to tools and weapons. Another impressive sight is the 1.3 million-year-old fossilised baleen whale skull. See more things to do in Patea here.
Location: 127 Egmont Street, Patea
9. Climb the Hawera Water Tower
The first thing to do when reaching the South Taranaki town of Hawera is to climb the iconic Hawera Water Tower to get your bearings and a great view over the land and sea. Pay a small fee to the local i-SITE, then climb up the spiral staircase to the top where you’ll get tremendous views of the town, the Tasman Sea and Mt Taranaki on a clear day. For the rest of your time in Hawera, check out these 10 Excellent Things to Do in Hawera.
Location: High Street, Hawera
10. Relax in Opunake
One of Taranaki’s best beach towns is Opunake. Located mid-way on Surf Highway 45, Opunake has an epic surf beach, as well as many other interesting features. Discover them all on the 7km Opunake Walkway, or simply stop by the town for a drink in one of the cute cafes. We have more suggestions in 5 Great Things to Do in Opunake.