Go for a Stroll in Taranaki
We all know the feeling of arriving in a new city with an eagerness to explore but still keeping to our tight backpacker budgets. New Plymouth is one of those places with a variety of environments, many of which can be seen by doing a good old fashioned walk. With that in mind, we put together this list of walks in New Plymouth.
In this Taranaki district, you can find yourself doing bushwalks in the middle of the city or venturing to one of the outer parks where you follow the course of a river. Arguably, it’s the coast that has the most to offer in New Plymouth. You have the award-winning Coastal Walkway, showcasing beaches and impressive artwork. Then there’s the wonderfully natural Whitecliffs Walkway incorporating coastal mountains, rock formations and not to mention the white cliffs.
Things You Have to See in New Plymouth
- Three Sisters rock formations on the Whitecliffs Walkway
- Te Rewa Rewa Bridge on the Coastal Walkway
- The tropical-looking forest in the Ratapihipihi Scenic Reserve
- Mt Taranaki’s reflection in Lake Mangamahoe
- Wind Wand on the Coastal Walkway
For more inspiration for New Plymouth, head on over to the 10 Best Things to Do in New Plymouth.
Whitecliffs Walkway (7 Hours One Way)
See the dramatic changes of the North Taranaki coastline from farmland to forest to mountains to, you guessed it, white cliffs. You can choose to walk the whole thing (14km/8.7miles) or walk to points of interest before making the journey back. The whole track follows a gas pipeline route to Tongaporutu.
The Whitecliffs Walkway starts from the Pukearuhe boat ramp at the end of Pukearuhe Road, north of Urenui. Be aware that the walkway closes over private land between 1-July and 30-September.
Pukearuhe to Wai Pingao Stream (3-4 Hours Return)
Follow the signs to the Cliff Top Track, which takes you across open farmland to Mt Davidson. You’ll cross the ridge then descend to the Waipingau Stream. To return to the start, return via the beach at low tide only. Make sure you are able to get back to Pukearuhe no later than two hours after low tide. Otherwise, you are screwed. Check out the Met Service tide timetable. If you’re not going to make it, return the way you came.
Pukearuhe to Mt Messenger: (6-7 Hours One Way)
To continue your journey to Mt Messenger, walk across the Parininihi Trig. The track then descends to a junction: the right leads to the Mt Messenger summit and the left continues to the end of the walkway in Tongaporutu (see below). After taking in the views from Mt Messenger, continue to State Highway 3. Arrange transport from SH3, which is approximately 50km (31 miles) north of New Plymouth and 1km (0.6 miles) from the southern base of Mt Messenger.
Pukearuhe to Tongaporutu: (5 Hours One Way)
Once you get to the Mt Messenger junction and turn left (see above), continue on the Whitecliffs Walkway down to more private farmland and the old Te Horo tunnel, which is no longer accessible. Now follow Clifton Road with views of the Three Sisters rock formation on the beach. Eventually, a sealed road takes you to the end at Tongaporutu.
Power Tip: If you just want to see the Three Sisters, just drive to the Three Sisters car park outside of Tongaporutu. Get there for low tide and walk along the coast for about 10 minutes.
Nikau Loop Walk at Ratapihipihi Scenic Reserve (1 Hour Return)
Walk among lush green forest, which is a taste of the forest found in Egmont National Park. To access the reserve, go through Tukapa Street to Cowling Road. From the end of the road take the gate into the forest. You can choose to do a short loop walk or a longer one, as all tracks lead back to the start!
There are varying gradients in the forest so be prepared for some climbs. You’ll also cross streams and its tributaries a few times and even see a small picturesque waterfall. All this mixed with the glossy leaves and tropical look to the forest means you really need to bring your camera!
For more details on the walks, check out the Department of Conservation (DOC) website.
Lake Mangamahoe (1h30min Return)
A scenic lake and forest area sits just south of New Plymouth. Lake Mangamahoe is an area of forest tracks, awesome views of Mt Taranaki, a mountain bike park, and a bridle zone. But we are here to talk about walking so let’s get to it!
The Lake Circuit walk starts from either the car park partway down Lake Access Road off State Highway 3 or from the car park at the end of the Lake Access Road.
Follow the loop walk through a variety of forest from native trees to redwood. There are a few lookouts along the way, where you’ll take a bit of steep climb. At one point in the track, you can choose to take an upper ridge track or the lower lakeside track. The upper track is over a forest access road used for logging. This is the best route for views of farmland, the lake and Mt Taranaki. The lower track is close to the lakeside in sheltered forest.
Araheke Bush Walk at Meeting of the Waters (2 Hours Return)
Another southern New Plymouth delight! Just 3km (2 miles) from New Plymouth on State Highway 3 is the Meeting of the Waters scenic reserve.
From the Meeting of the Waters car park, go down the steps take you to a swimming hole then to a wooden bridge where the waters of a hydro station rush underneath. Continue through the forest to a swingbridge. From here is a 30-minute loop on a well-maintained track over boardwalks while the trees tower above. Return the car park the same way.
For more details on the walk, head to this page on the DOC website.
Hickford Park and Mangati Walkways (2 Hours One Way)
East of New Plymouth is the Bell Block residential area with a reserve, walkways and a beach another great place for a stroll. Hickford Park has a pleasant coastal walk, while the Mangati Walkway follows a stream through residential areas.
The coastal walk at Hickford Park allows you to see one of the few remaining natural wetlands in Taranaki, Waipu Lagoons, where you’ll see a variety of birds. Pass by vegetative sand dunes and access a rocky beach in this area of significance to the Department of Conservation and the local iwi (Maori tribe). You can access the walk from the west end of Bell Block Beach or via the Coastal Walkway off Ellesmere Avenue. From Bell Block Beach you can follow the Mangati Stream into the residential areas to De Havilland Drive and Parklands Avenue.
Te Henui Walkway (2 Hours Return)
The Coastal Walkway steals a lot of limelight in New Plymouth, but the river walkways are also something not to be missed. The Te Henui River banks filled with native and exotic plants offer a completely different environment in New Plymouth.
You can access the track easily from multiple areas but to do the whole thing it’s best to start from by the lightning bolt bridge on The Coastal Walkway. You can do the walk all the way to Durham Avenue in the south or make it into a loop walk by crossing over the river and returning down the other side. There is a bridge to do such things at Cumberland Street.
Huatoki Walkway (1h30mins One Way)
Yet another suburbs-to-sea walk in New Plymouth! Just like the Te Henui Walkway (see above) the Huatoki Walkway follows a stream through some of the best of New Plymouth’s parks, native bush and streets. The walkway runs between the Wind Wand sculpture on the coast and the Tupari Reserve.
Starting from the coastal end, the stream mouth is beside the Wind Wand. Take the path down Puke Ariki Landing and walk down Brougham Street, New Plymouth’s original street until you reach Powderham Street, then turn left. Then enter Sir Victor Davies Park.
When you emerge from the park into a car park, walk under the Vivian Street viaduct. You’ll now be walking beside the river to an old quarry. Now it’s just a case of following the stream! Easy! You’ll get to stroll through the Huatoki Domain and do a loop walk in the Tupari Reserve.
The Coastal Walkway (3 Hours One Way)
Finally, this is the one they all talk about! The Coastal Walkway is New Plymouth’s award-winning track that goes along the entire length of the city. As it is a 13.2km (8.2-mile) concrete path, you can easily walk, run, bike, wheelchair, longboard, skate, scooter, blade, or whatever comes to mind. New Plymouth’s coast has many points of interest, such as beaches, sculptures and parks. The track runs between Ngamotu Beach and to Tiromoana Crescent in Bell Block.
Starting from Ngamotu Beach, which is great for swimming, head east on the walkway to get to Breakwater Bay a fancy place for a bite to eat. Kawaroa Park and Todd Energy Aquatic Centre are next up on your right. As you approach the central section of the walkway, you can’t miss the 45m (148ft) long Wind Wand! In the area is a number of carvings and pieces of art. Next is the Te Henui Bridge or “lightning bolt bridge” where you can start the Te Henui Walkway (see above).
Now walk along the stretching Fitzroy Beach, a popular host for surfing competitions. Once you reach the end of the beach and walk up the Waiwhakaiho River for a bit and cross the iconic Te Rewa Rewa Bridge. Its shape is said to convey a breaking wave or a whale skeleton. Either way, it beautifully frames Mt Taranaki seen not too far in the distance.
After the bridge is a stretch of picturesque farmland. You can take a quick detour to the Waipu Lagoons, which are a habitat for both native and exotic birds. Hickford Park is next (see above). Take the Mangati Walkway to Bell Block Beach, walk the beach to where you will emerge at your finish point, Tiromoana Crescent.