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10 Taranaki Must-Dos


What are the best things to do in Taranaki?

If you don’t get the chance to work and travel in Taranaki, then the solution is simple: make the chance! The region with Mt Taranaki as its star is the best example of mountains to sea experiences in New Zealand. One morning you could be hiking in the mountainous Egmont National Park, by the afternoon you could be surfing the waves.

What are the best things to do in Taranaki? Well, we’ve compiled a list of the best points of interest in the region that are also friendly to your travelling budget. From seeing unusual natural land formations to original man-made structures, and hiking in alpine environments to “dam dropping”, you’re bound to have a blast in this North Island region.

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1. Climb Paritutu Rock

This volcanic outcrop sticks out like a sore thumb between the two New Plymouth beaches, Ngamotu Beach and Back Beach. It begs to be climbed to get a view over New Plymouth and some of the Taranaki coastline. It’s just one of the awesome 10 Free or Cheap Things to do in New Plymouth.

Location: Centennial Drive, New Plymouth

2. Dawson Falls

This is the most accessible waterfall in the Taranaki region and certainly one of the most impressive. Nestled in the Egmont National Park, take a 10 minute walk from the Dawson Falls Visitor Centre through glorious native forest to these 18 metre high falls!

Location: Dawson Falls Visitor Centre, Manaia Road, Egmont National Park

3. Cape Egmont Lighthouse

There’s something about the isolation of lighthouses that are so photo-worthy. The Cape Egmont Lighthouse is on the most western point of Taranaki and is surrounded by hills created by ancient volcanic lahars. And of course, this is just another great angle to Mt Taranaki! The lighthouse is a must-see if travelling on the Surf Highway 45.

Location: Cape Road, Surf Highway 45

4. Hike to the summit of Mt Taranaki

A hike up to the summit of Mt Taranaki means discovering volcanic and alpine landscapes, while being rewarded with views of epic proportions. We wish we were exaggerating. Get more information on the hike in our Hikes in Egmont National Park article.

Location: Egmont National Park
 Andrea Schaffer on Flickr

5. Dam Dropping

Dam dropping is one of the hidden gems of adrenaline activities in New Zealand. You won’t hear the tourism operators raving about this locally invented activity like you would hear about skydiving and bungy jumping, however, taking a kayak or water sledge down the 8 metre Normanby Dam is a much-loved Taranaki activity for both locals and backpackers.

Location: Normanby Dam


6. Walk up the Hawera Water Tower

This water tower built in 1914 has become the icon of Hawera. Climb the 215 steps to get an overview of the town and beyond!

Location: 55 High Street, Hawera

7. Hike the Poukakai Circuit

A multi-day hike through varying alpine vegetation and forests, the Poukaikai Circuit is a true Kiwi experience. Find out more about this hike in Hikes in Egmont National Park.

Location: Egmont National Park
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8. Surfing

The surf is so good on the Taranaki coast that there is a whole highway dedicated to the sport, Surf Highway 45. The list of surf beaches is endless but the highlights include the beaches at Fitzroy, Oakura, Kumara Patch, Stent Road and Ohawe.

Location: Surf Highway 45

9. Te Rewa Rewa Bridge

Strategically placed across the Waiwhakaiho River and in line with Mt Taranaki, the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge’s unusual design perfectly frames the volcano in the distance. The bridge is also part of the Coastal Walkway, another recommended walk along New Plymouth’s seafront. Nearby are some awesome surf breaks at either side of the river mouth.

Location: Clemow Road, Fitzroy
russellstreet on Wikipedia

10. The Three Sisters

At low tide, walk on Tongaporutu Beach to see three 25 metre tall pinnacles known as The Three Sisters and Elephant Rock [Update: Elephant Rock no longer looks like an elephant after it lost its trunk in an earthquake. Bad times]. Make a day out of the visit by doing the Whitecliffs Walkway.

Location: Tonaporutu

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