A hidden gem - Spotlight on Urenui

Urenui local Ron Trigg unravels the secrets and must-do's in his hometown.

Urenui Marae

Where do you live?

Urenui, North Taranaki.

What is the origin of the name ‘Urenui’?

A few people will say it is Maori for ‘Great Courage’ but everyone knows it actually means ‘Great Private Parts.’

How long have you lived in Urenui and why did you move there?

I moved to Urenui 15 years ago to start an avocado orchard called Avalon Farms which is still in operation. The climate is perfect for growing avocados. In fact, many locals will tell you there’s a microclimate in Urenui because it is situated between the hills and the coast. We are further away from the mountain so we are a lot warmer, plus we are quite sheltered and don’t have a lot of wind. We don’t trust the weather forecasts because they are always wrong and we always have nicer weather than everyone thinks.

Fishing

Where do you take your visitors?


My favourite place in the world is Wai-iti beach. If you are there when the tide is right, you can walk up and down the beach for miles, exploring caves and fossils in the mudstone. The view of Mount Taranaki over the sea is amazing too. Wai-iti beach is the place I go whenever I need to feel centred.


What makes you love Urenui?


Urenui is a little bit out there and it is different to what many people may expect. The town has a collection of really interesting people. It has a solid foundation of hard core families who have been there for generations but on top of that, there is a constant flow of people from all parts of the world. We have a strong German community and lots of Czechs and Poles and people from many other nations. It makes life so much more interesting.


Best thing about your town?


We have so many fun events. The annual Urenui Rodeo has been happening for 25 years and is a very special part of the local calendar. Octoberfest at Mike’s Brewery is quickly becoming an iconic event. We have an annual speed-shearing competition which takes place inside a local pub – the organisers open the back of a truck and use it as the stage, then entrants have to pedal on a bicycle to create the power for the shearing. Naki Run Amuck is a lot of fun. And there are plenty more, we know how to put on a good party in Urenui.

What is the town most well-known for?


Sir Peter Buck and the Peter Buck memorial. The Urenui Rodeo. Mike’s Beer. The lifestyle.


What is the town’s best kept secret? 

Locals get very protective and keep their paua patches and whitebaiting spots top secret. But if there’s something I can let out of the bag where no fishers will be seen, the marine reserve in Urenui is completely and utterly revered. It is a rich and beautiful marine environment which is really starting to become quite something for divers.

Also, if you loop Uruti and Okoki Rds a little past Okoki School, you will find the most amazing hand-dug tunnel that is really old and stunningly picturesque. It is similar to what you’d find on the Forgotten World Highway but in North Taranaki. 

Another secret is The Castle which is quite elusive - we always have people stopping in at Mike’s to ask for directions to it so I guess that makes it a secret.

The old Chapman-Taylor Home is absolutely amazing, on the cliffs and 600-800 metres from Wai-iti beach. It is surrounded by native plantings and beautiful thick bush and is definitely worth visiting if you can find it (otherwise come and visit us and we will give you directions)


Why do visitors need to visit Urenui?


People need to come to Urenui to take time out. Things go at a slower pace here and we have everything you need to have a relaxing getaway. There’s a lot to do for free, we have great accommodation options, rich cultural history, the people in Urenui are really friendly and we also have great beer.

As an aside, there are also a lot of incredible artists stashed away on our doorstep in Urenui too that are worth visiting during the Taranaki Arts Trail. 

Whitecliffs

The beautiful Whitecliffs also need a mention. Ten million year old white mudstones that have slowly eroded leaving 245 metre-high cliffs. What more can I say?

Name some famous people from your town


Sir Peter Buck and Mike!


Where is the best place to take the kids?


It would have to be Urenui campground or the bush walk to Mt Damper Falls (if your kids are a little older). At the campgrounds there are really nice swimming holes depending on the tides and you can cycle everywhere in Urenui. Mike’s Brewery is creating a child-friendly menu at the moment…


Where can I get great coffee?


Mud Bay Café


Where is a good place to eat?


Wai-iti Beach Café has the best setting. The food is delicious and great value for money plus it is right on the beach so you can see Mount Taranaki over the waves.
 

If someone were to spend a whole day there, what would they do?


Depending on the tide, I’d tell them to get up early to start the day by walking the Whitecliffs tramping track – just the shortened loop version though so they’d have enough time to head into the village for brunch.
 
After that, there’s a short walk in the village called the Noel Nairn Walk – it isn’t very well-known but it is beautiful and goes through lovely native plantings for about 1km.
 
Then they could wander across the swingbridge across to the camping ground to explore the rock pools.
 
After this, they would enjoy a long, lazy lunch afternoon at Mike’s Brewery.
 
At the end of all this, a perfect day would end with them watching the sunset from Wai-iti beach and staying the night at The Castle by the log fire.