Without a doubt, the heart and soul of Taranaki on the West Coast of the central North Island is the magnificent Mt Taranaki, also known as Mount Egmont. This area is so famous, it even used to have a firework named after it!
The History of Taranaki
Taranaki is a place drenched in history, tradition and a home-style beauty. It is dairy farm land, bathed in the warmth and charm of old world New Zealand. The character of Taranaki shows in the way the locals have designed a list of ‘top 50 things to do in Taranaki’ which includes eating ice cream at Iona Dairy, surfing and having a ‘whitebait’ fritter!
The legend of Mt Taranaki
Maori legend tells the story of three mountains caught in a love triangle – Taranaki and Tongariro were both deeply in love with the lovely Mount Pihanga. After an almighty battle, proud Taranaki was defeated and, heartbroken and shamed, fled to the sea where he resides to this day, his head often hidden in the heavy cloud so no-one can see his shame. The tale continues that the swathe he cut in his retreat is now the magnificent Whanganui River.
Taranaki Culture – arts, music and the great outdoors
The region is also famed for its arts and music, and hosts a number of festivals each year. One local music group, the Patea Maori Club, is responsible for putting Taranaki on the map of NZ music legend, when their song ‘Poi E’ became a runaway success and topped the charts in 1984. Ex Prime Minister Helen Clark nominated the song as her favourite in the last few years.
Climbers will love the challenges presented by this 2,518 metre conical mountain, but please remember the trampers code and be prepared for all conditions, let someone know where you are and when to expect you back. Climbing is a thrill to be taken with a good measure of caution! After your climb, head into Inglewood for a world-famous pie!
For those who enjoy driving, the circuit route from Hawera around the Tasman Bight to New Plymouth, following the Tasman Sea, is stunning. The sunsets over the Western Tasman are not to be missed; surf, beach walks and exploring the beach caves is an adventure for all the family, and there are countless activities to be tried for the more adventurous.
If you are planning a trip to Taranaki to visit the mountain or visit New Plymouth, be sure to check out our Trip Planner page with some great routes from both Auckland and Wellington taking you over to the west coast. A stunning drive is along the Forgotten Highway and one that should be taken at least once on a visit to New Zealand. Check out our road trip itineraries here.
Places to stay in Taranaki
There are countless places to stay in the Taranaki area, and you will find one to suit your style and budget easily. Farmstays and ‘WWOOFING’ (working for keep on farms or Willing Workers On Organic Farms) will give you a taste of the true flavour of this region.
Whatever you choose to do on your visit to Taranaki, you will be pleased you took the time to stay a while in this unique area filled with genuine Kiwi warmth and hospitality, rich in tradition and humour like no other.
Getting to Taranaki is an adventure in itself. You can either take a flight or pick up a rental car in Auckland or Wellington and head off on the trip of a lifetime. Check out our Trip Planner tool for ideas on the best route to take to get there and go out and Explore!
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