Nestled on the western coast of New Zealand’s North Island, Taranaki is known for its stunning landscapes, including the iconic Mount Taranaki, lush rainforests, and beautiful coastlines. While these natural wonders are undoubtedly a draw, Taranaki offers more than meets the eye. Dive into this list of unusual and offbeat things to do in Taranaki for a unique Kiwi adventure.
1. Visit the Goblins at Goblin Forest:
Deep within Egmont National Park, you’ll find a mysterious forest known as Goblin Forest. Its enchanting moss-covered trees and eerie atmosphere make it feel like a setting from a fantasy novel. Take a hike along the Goblin Forest Track, and you might just believe in forest-dwelling goblins.
2. Explore the Lost World of Mangapohue Natural Bridge:
Venture to the Waitomo region on the eastern edge of Taranaki to discover the Mangapohue Natural Bridge. A short walk leads you to this incredible limestone arch, which once served as the roof of a cave. It’s like stepping into another world as you walk through the bridge, with the river flowing below and lush vegetation all around.
3. Attend a Kiwi Concert at the TSB Bowl of Brooklands:
While the TSB Bowl of Brooklands isn’t unusual per se, experiencing a live concert here under the stars is an unforgettable experience. The natural amphitheater’s acoustics and beautiful surroundings create a magical atmosphere for music lovers.
4. Discover the Hidden Waterfall at Dawson Falls:
Dawson Falls is a popular stop in Egmont National Park, but few visitors know about the hidden waterfall nearby. Follow the Wilkies Pools Track to find this secret gem. The peaceful ambiance and lush greenery make it a perfect spot for a secluded picnic.
5. Visit the Lavender Farm in Stratford:
Explore a field of purple at the Lavender Farm in Stratford. Stroll through rows of fragrant lavender plants, sip lavender tea, and shop for unique lavender-based products. It’s a sensory delight you wouldn’t expect to find in New Zealand.
6. Experience the Whimsy of Pukekura Park’s Festival of Lights:
If you happen to visit Taranaki during the summer, make sure to catch the Festival of Lights at Pukekura Park in New Plymouth. This dazzling event features illuminated trees, sculptures, and light displays that turn the park into a magical wonderland after dark.
7. Get Lost in a Maze at Tupare Gardens:
Tupare Gardens in New Plymouth offers a unique opportunity to get lost—in a maze. Wander through the perfectly manicured gardens and find your way through the labyrinthine paths, all while enjoying the peaceful surroundings.
8. Hunt for Art Along the Te Henui Walkway:
Combine nature and art by taking a stroll along the Te Henui Walkway in New Plymouth. This scenic coastal trail is dotted with sculptures and art installations, adding an artistic twist to your outdoor adventure.
9. Stay in a Kiwi Bach by the Sea:
Experience the quintessential Kiwi beach holiday by renting a traditional bach (beach house) along Taranaki’s coast. These cozy, rustic cottages offer a unique and relaxed way to enjoy the stunning coastal scenery.
10. Explore the Forgotten World Highway:
Embark on a road trip along the Forgotten World Highway (State Highway 43), a remote and scenic route that takes you through historic towns, rolling hills, and lush forests. Look out for the “Republic of Whangamomona,” a self-proclaimed republic with its own president and passport stamp.
11. Visit the Whanganui River Markets:
Head to Whanganui, just south of Taranaki, and explore the bustling Whanganui River Markets. Held every Saturday, these markets offer a wide variety of fresh produce, artisanal crafts, and delicious street food. It’s a lively and colorful experience you won’t want to miss.
12. Go Stargazing at Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake):
Taranaki’s clear skies make it an excellent destination for stargazing. Visit Lake Tikitapu, also known as the Blue Lake, near New Plymouth, and lay back to admire the starry night sky. It’s a serene and awe-inspiring activity.
Taranaki may be famous for its natural beauty, but its hidden gems and unique experiences make it an even more enticing destination. From enchanted forests and natural bridges to lavender fields and mysterious mazes, Taranaki offers a wealth of unusual and offbeat activities for the adventurous traveler. So, don’t just settle for the ordinary—explore the extraordinary in Taranaki, New Zealand.