Exploring Opunake: The Surf Town Gem of Taranaki

God, life’s good when you wake up to the constant hum of the waves. They come in pretty thick and fast, making it obvious why people love this section of Surf Highway 45 so much. We won’t be zipping up the wetsuits today though, but we will be checking out more of what Opunake has to offer on dry land (or as dry as it can stay during this pretty rainy winter).

Work done and breakfast eaten, we have a coffee and chocolate cake with the lovely managers of the Opunake Holiday Park, Lisa and Jase. They give us some great recommendations for what to do in Opunake, such as the walkway, visiting the lake, checking out the vintage-styled cinema, as well as a few recommendations for the rest of our Taranaki journey. Again, it’s so cool that the locals are so keen for us to have a great time in Taranaki (or “the ‘naki”, as they say).

Opunake Beach

A plan in place for the day, we are in extreme exploration mode! First stop, Opunake Beach. For one reason, it’s a pretty cool beach to surf and have a walk, for another reason, it’s literally two steps away from Opunake Holiday Park. The beach has soft black sand enjoyed by us and the seabirds. We can imagine it gets pretty booming in summer, with a fair selection of picnic benches overseeing the beach and the scenic cliffs on either side.

Opunake Beach being rough this morning Opunake Beach being rough this morning
Robin in an op-shop again... Robin in an op-shop again...
Look at that for a cinema! Look at that for a cinema!
Skimming rocks from the Opunake Walkway Skimming rocks from the Opunake Walkway

Vintage cinema, murals and op-shops

Take a walk up the road, and we are in the small town of Opunake and guess what? More murals! Honestly, almost every single town in Taranaki is decorated with murals covering the entire sides of buildings. Each mural has a story to tell about the town, whether it’s their history or the fun stuff they like to do (like surf, of course). One place we have to mention is Everybody’s Cinema, a community cinema run by volunteers. It’s vintage style made it the first thing we spotted when driving through the town last night, and after a chat with Lisa and Jase this morning, they told us that it has regular movies showing (we just missed one last night, damn) where you sit on sofas, are served cheese boards and wine. It sounds like a cool little event that we’re sorry we missed! Nevertheless, we’re cruising through the rest of the town. As per usual, Robin is going into every op-shop trying to find board games. Laura eventually drags him away from the tatty jigsaw puzzles before things get out of hand.

Skimmers!

Next on our list of fun in Opunake is checking out the lake. What we are loving about Opunake is that all of this is within a short walking distance of each other. The lake is teaming with birdlife, from white ducks to black swans. What’s more, Opunake Lake is part of the 7km Opunake Walkway, so we pick it up from here. Through trees and teasing views of the lake, we take the walkway around the perimeter of the lake until we reach an unexpected river. It’s backed by steep cliffs, but the side of the river nearest to us is fairly shallow and covered in small pebbles. You know what this means? Skimmers!

When New Zealand is so stunning that it breaks our camera…

Once we remember how old we are, we stop throwing stones in the river and continue along the Opunake Walkway until we are suddenly on the coastline, high on a cliff watching some amazing surf roll in. This coastline is magical! Starting high above Opunake Beach, the walkway continues along the coast on top of stunning rugged cliffs. On the other side of us is perfectly green farmland and an insane view of Mt Taranaki. The mountain looks like it’s slowly sucking in the clouds. God, New Zealand you are killing us with your beauty here!

In amongst all the craziness of taking photos, Laura breaks her camera lens when the wind blows the tripod over… Damn. What a clutz. We apologise in advance for any weird-quality photos appearing on the blog for the next few days as we wait for a replacement lens to arrive. It’s New Zealand’s fault. It’s too photogenic.

What it’s like to chill the hell out at the beach

Nevertheless, we stroll back along the coast to the holiday park for some food. (We are finally getting to the end of all the eggs Vanessa gave us from her hens). Order a new lens and do what most people do when they are by the sea: chill… out…

Tomorrow! We continue our crazy journey through Taranaki to the Bread Captial of New Zealand, to the Water Tower Capital of New Zealand, and finally leave the Taranaki region when we will arrive in Wanganui. See you then!

Laura and Robin

Reflections on Opunake Beach
Reflections on Opunake Beach Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

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