Story Angles

From road trips along historic pioneering routes to New Zealand’s home of contemporary art, there are plenty of stories to tell in Taranaki.

Here are a few ideas to get you started but if you wish to find out more information or speak to local experts for story content, let us know and we can introduce you. 

Gardens of Significance.

Taranaki has been called the ‘Garden of New Zealand’ since the early 1900s due to its composed climate and the rich nutrients in its volcanic soil. The region currently lives up to its title by offering eighteen internationally recognized and star-graded gardens that are open at set times throughout the year for exploration and two annual garden festivals that showcase over a hundred public and private gardens around the mountain. 

Taranaki’s premier garden is the privately owned Te Kainga Marire whose native collection of plants is often described as the epitome of the New Zealand garden. Also in New Plymouth is Pukekura Park which covers 52 hectares of walkways and plantings and hosts the famous Festival of Lights for a month each summer.

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/ Len Lye Centre

Len Lye Centre

The recently opened Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/ Len Lye Centre is being heralded as New Zealand’s home of contemporary art. Home to the works of pioneering kinetic sculptor and film maker, Len Lye, the gallery also features a programme of international and national exhibitions and film festivals.

The gallery is most well-known for its building’s architecture, with a curved façade made of highly-polished stainless steel and concrete. Created with inspiration from the works of Len Lye and the local dairy, oil and engineering industries, the end result is a building that’s a fitting tribute to the artist who once said: “Great architecture goes fifty-fifty with great art.”

Great Taranaki Road Trips – The Forgotten World Highway

Forgotten World Highway

New Zealand’s oldest heritage trail, the Forgotten World Highway runs between Taumarunui and Stratford, gateway to Mount Taranaki.

The 155km route follows ancient Maori trade routes and pioneering farm tracks, through untamed native bush and ruggedly stunning natural scenery.

It crosses four natural saddles, offering spectacular views of Mount Taranaki to the west and the central North Island mountains of Tongariro, Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe to the east.

The heritage village of Whangamomona is the focal point of the route with its current population of 30.

Great Taranaki Road Trips – Surf Highway 45

Surf Highway 45

Surf Highway 45 traces Taranaki’s coastline for 105km from the main city New Plymouth to Hawera in the South. Along the route you’ll pass many points of geographic, historic and scenic interest, handily interspersed with great cafes. 

Then connected with State Highway 3, on the inland side of the mountain the highway makes for a great daytrip.

If you’re hunting surf, then the coast offers countless surf breaks that are big in legend and often small in crowds.

Otherwise, enjoy the many art studios, cafés, swimming beaches, museums and points of interest along the Surf Highway.

Mythical and Sacred Mt Taranaki

Mt. Taranaki

Like so many great stories, Taranaki’s begins with a love affair. According to Maori myth, Mount Taranaki is a bold man who once stood in the centre of the North Island alongside the mountains of Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe. Taranaki fell in love with pretty Mount Pihanga and constantly battled with Mount Ngauruhoe for her heart.

After a particularly heated battle, which Ngauruhoe won, Taranaki was banished to the west, making a lonely trek to his current resting place.

The trail of tears he left behind over his lost love formed the Whanganui River, and to this day if you catch the mountain behind the clouds it is said that he is hiding the tears he still sheds for pretty Pihanga.

A Sunshine City

Sunshine City

Taranaki is a fantastic place to live, work and visit due to its dynamic range of activities, its enviable culture of prioritising a work/life balance and its welcoming community. Over the years it has won many awards including the best place to live in New Zealand, the best small city in the world and was named one of the best places in New Zealand to raise a family.

On top of this, last January Taranaki broke the country’s record for the most sunshine hours in a month by a startling ten hours, so there was more time for surfing, hiking, picnics and barbeques than ever before.

 Family holidays on a budget

New Plymouth’s Coastal Walkway

Taranaki is different to many other places in New Zealand because of its rich selection of free and cheap things to do, which makes it the perfect family destination.

From world-class art galleries and museums to public gardens, festivals, touring routes, New Plymouth’s Coastal Walkway and many more, there’s also a number of affordable seaside holiday parks and motels perfect for an unforgettable family getaway.

Wine and Dine in Taranaki

Ozone Coffee Roasters

While you’re in Taranaki, be sure to explore our wide range of restaurants, cafes and bars. If you want a view, Stratford Mountain House is situated on Mount Taranaki’s slopes and Okurukuru overlooks the West Coast and its own vineyard. For a treat, Table and Social Kitchen offer delicious cuisine in the middle of New Plymouth thanks to their talented chefs. You can see more dining options and local favourites in Venture Taranaki’s Must Do’s brochure.

If you want to get behind the scenes, Mike’s Brewery offers beer tours and tastings in Urenui and Ozone Coffee Roasters can show you how they create award-winning coffee at their Beanstore in New Plymouth.  

The Last Samurai

Mt. Taranaki

Due to its similarities to Mt Fuji in Japan, Mt Taranaki and its surrounding fields and forests were chosen as the setting for Academy Award-nominated film The Last Samurai starring Tom Cruise in 2003. Its economic benefit was integral to transforming many different communities within Taranaki. 

Other films such as Utu (1983), Came a Hot Friday (1985), A Show of Hands (2008) and Predicament (2010) were also filmed in Taranaki.

Exploring Mount Taranaki

Exploring Mount Taranaki

There’s over 200km of walking tracks on picturesque Mount Taranaki. From native forests to wetlands teeming with wildlife, waterfalls and scenic vantage points, there is plenty to discover. The walkways are each unique and display a different perspective of the dramatic Taranaki landscape.

When exploring Mount Taranaki, many people are also surprised at the lack of people on the tracks unlike many other national parks in New Zealand.

In Egmont National Park, where Mount Taranaki is based, you may encounter three or four other hikers on a four-hour long adventure so many find it to be a fantastic way to feel one with nature and get away from it all.