Taranaki, North Island

including New Plymouth

Taranaki and New Plymouth family holidays

Taranaki and New Plymouth family holidays

Taranaki and New Plymouth family holidays

Welcome to Taranaki and New Plymouth

Walks and Parks

Walks & Parks

Get Outdoors!

Discover the region's walks, parks, beaches, lakes or rivers.

The Taranaki region is most famous for its volcano, Mount Taranaki (also known as Mount Egmont), in Egmont National Park. Its distinctive, almost perfect cone (one of the most symmetrical volcanic cones in the world) dominates the surrounding landscape and is one of New Zealand’s most visible landmarks from the air. The national park and Mount Taranaki itself are ideal for family picnics and walks. In case you’re wondering, Taranaki’s last major eruption was in 1655 and major eruptions have been occurring roughly every 500 years, although some scientists are suggesting it’s already overdue for some activity! The mountain’s name – The Maori called it Mount Taranaki (meaning shining mountain peak) but Captain Cook changed the name to Mount Egmont after the Earl of Egmont. Today both names are used, while scientists call it the Egmont Volcano.

New Plymouth

New Plymouth is the port and main city of the Taranaki region.  It is also noted for being a coastal city with a mountain within 30 minutes drive, where residents and visitors to New Plymouth can snowboard, ski, water ski and surf all in the same day.   As well as being a popular base for outdoor enthusiasts, sun seekers, skiers and climbers, New Plymouth is a pretty arty place too!  It's home to the largest New Zealand Arts Festival outside Wellington, featuring international and New Zealand talent.  This two and a half week festival, with over 80 performers, runs from end of July to mid August.  New Plymouth is also host to WOMAD, a 3 day music festival.  WOMAD features 400 performers from 21 countries, providing a mix of music and dancing.  Tickets are in hot demand and generally sell out well before the event.  Be sure to check out an online travel guide for more information about events taking place in or around Wellington.

Surf Highway

Known as Surf Highway 45, the touring route right around Taranaki's bulging coastline passes dozens of world-class surf beaches with pristine, uncrowded waves.  As you make your way round to Hawera in the South (about 2 hours drive without stops you'll always see magnificent Mt Taranaki and on the inland side of the highway there are plenty of places to get into the foothills and explore the bush around Taranaki.  Starting from New Plymouth, first point of interest is Lake Rotomanu, home to New Plymouth's premiere waterskiing and wakeboarding venue.  As you head out of town you'll pass numerous beach roads and it's time to take your time, wander off the main road and get exploring!  Look out for the Wreck of the SS Gairloch, down Timaru Road, and the Cape Egmont Lighthouse at the end of Cape Road.  A great lunch stop on this drive is Opunake; cool, arty township with a laid-back surf culture and safe swimming beach nearby.  As you make your way back north towards New Plymouth, you'll pass the roads that lead into Egmont National Park, and at Stratford, the Forgotten World Highway begins.

Forgotten World Highway

New Zealand's oldest touring route between Stratford and Taumarunui.  It's a windy road and not the quickest, and perhaps for this reason the road is very quiet – which is perfect for a leisurely day of exploring, if you're heading towards Central Plateau or the north and aren't too pressed for time.  The 155km highway begins in Stratford and passes through idyllic, green dairy country. There are four natural saddles on the highway, all great stopping places with spectacular, far-reaching views.  On a clear day you'll see Mt Ruapehu ahead of you and Mt Taranaki behind.  One of the tiny villages you'll pass through is called Whangamomona with a population of not much more than 30 residents.  Whangamomona declared itself a republic in 1989, complete with its own presidential election.  Continue on past forest, waterfalls, through tunnels and gorges until you arrive back in civilization at Taumarunui.  The iSite information centres at both Stratford and Taumarunui as well as New Plymouth provide excellent maps of the whole Forgotten World Highway and all the points of interest along the way.

Taumarunui–New Plymouth Cycle Trail

Part of the New Zealand Cycle Trail network, the 180km on-road cycle trail follows the Forgotten World Highway from Taumarunui, through farmland and onto join the Coastal Walkway at New Plymouth.  There are great sections to take as a day bike ride, where the roads are quiet and the scenery spectacular.  A 70 km return option is to park at the scenic Bertrand Road Swing Bridge and follow the well-marked cycle route. You're on roads but they are pretty quiet.  You'll see a small but clear cycleway sign at every junction.  The route follows farmland, goes through the Tarata Tunnel and eventually you're at the remote village of Purangi.  This 35km section encompasses some of the best scenery of the track, is varied and a close starting point from New Plymouth.  However, it's a long day, so you may want to decide your distance and pick up a Cycle Trail map from the New Plymouth iSite.

Map of New Zealand
  • Queenstown
  • Northland
  • Bay of Plenty
  • Wanaka
  • Fiordland
  • Taupo
  • Coromandel
  • Gisborne
  • North Canterbury
  • Waikato
  • Hawkes Bay
  • South Canterbury
  • Manawatu
  • Rotorua
  • Nelson & Golden Bay
  • Taranaki
  • Marlborough Sounds
  • Southland
  • Central Otago
  • Dunedin
  • West Coast
  • Whangarei
  • Bay of Islands
  • Tauranga
  • Gisborne
  • Hamilton
  • Napier
  • Kapiti
  • Palmerston North
  • Whanganui
  • New Plymouth
  • Arrowtown
  • Te Anau
  • Akaroa
  • Ashburton
  • Hanmer
  • Kaikoura
  • Methven
  • Mt Cook
  • Oamaru
  • Tekapo
  • Timaru
  • Abel Tasman
  • Motueka
  • Nelson Lakes
  • Blenheim
  • Picton
  • Catlins
  • Gore
  • Stewart Island
  • Central Plateau
  • Invercargill
  • Cromwell
  • Greymouth
  • Hokitika
  • Westport
  • Glenorchy

Our favourite destinations…

Auckland destination2

Auckland

New Zealand’s economic heart and biggest city is also an exciting family visitor destination, situated on a sunny harbour with city beaches just minutes away from the CBD. Orientate yourself by heading down to Viaduct Harbour, wandering the waterfront, checking out the super yachts or enjoying the waterfront restaurants. Nearby is the must-visit Sky Tower along with excellent and kid-friendly museums and tons of exciting activities!

Wellington

Wellington is New Zealand’s capital. Here you will find New Zealand's parliament buildings, including the 'Executive Wing', more well-known as 'The Beehive' due to its distinctive shape. Another icon to look out for is the Wellington Tram, which was the main means of public transport between 1878 and 1964.

Christchurch

With a population of around 400,000 Christchurch, in Canterbury, is the South Island ’s largest city, yet much of it has the feel of a small town. Perhaps that’s why it’s known as the Garden City but with the expansive Hagley Park, Botanic Gardens, Port Hills, River Avon and numerous beaches the city certainly has an open, relaxed feel that’s hard to beat.

Queenstown

With its well-deserved reputation as New Zealand’s activity adventure capital you’ll never run out of activities and things to do in Queenstown, but you may run out of time! With breathtaking scenery, activities and festivals, cafes and restaurants, skiing and snowboarding, shopping and wineries, this lakeside alpine resort rates as one of the world’s top vacation destinations for all ages and seasons.

Rotorua

Rotorua sits on the shore of Lake Rotorua, one of sixteen lakes in the area formed by hundreds of thousands of years of eruptions from the Taupo Volcanic Zone. The area is renowned for its geothermal activity and top of any activity list is to see the bubbling mud pools that are around the region for yourself. The Waimangu Volcanic Valley offers a first hand insight into the devastation caused by the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera and is a great place to discover steaming volcanic craters and bubbling, spitting  pools of mud!

Nelson and Golden Bay

The Nelson and Golden Bay regions, at the top of the South Island, boast enviable sunshine hours, glorious sandy beaches, safe swimming spots, lots of wildlife to look out for, and Abel Tasman National Park - an absolute must to explore, on foot, by kayak, your own craft or watertaxi.  Nelson is home to a vibrant arts and crafts community with a fabulous Saturday market, and is close to award-winning wineries and family-friendly bike tracks to take you around the coast.

Hawkes Bay

Napier was rebuilt after the 1931 earthquake and is now known as NZ's Art Deco City.  The Art Deco influence has created a unique city – nowhere else can you see such a varied concentration of art deco style. With over 2,200 sunshine hours a year, Napier is a year-round holiday destination with countless activities to entertain the kids – there's days of entertainment on Marine Parade alone, plus numerous other family-friendly trips and activities.  Add to that the beaches, walks and flat cycle paths, outdoor cafes and entertainment, and you have a perfect holiday destination!

Northland

Beautiful, unspoiled beaches, fishing, historic gum fields, kauri forests – the Far North has it all. With subtropical temperatures, it's often known as ‘the Winterless north', with warm, humid summers and mild winters.
Gateway to the Bay of Islands, Paihia is a pretty, lively beachside town and a perfect base for your family holiday. It’s your start point for Bay of Island adventures including day cruises, sailing, kayaking, swimming with dolphins and reef or wreck diving.