Taranaki

Don't even think about bringing an umbrella to this west coast region; it dishes up the healthiest sunshine hours in the country.

Located halfway between the North Island's two major centres, the coastal region of Taranaki is best known for its stratovolcano draped in alpine rainforest. The perfectly symmetrical Taranaki Maunga is the star of Te Papakura o Taranaki/Egmont National Park — set aside 10 hours to hike to the summit or spend an afternoon wandering through a magical goblin forest to reach the natural lava slide.

A high concentration of world-class surf breaks await down Surf Highway 45 from New Plymouth to Hāwea, while further inland the Forgotten World Highway brings you to a republic with its own passport stamp. Weird and wonderful delights range from a gallery dedicated to kinetic art to a private museum with an underground boat ride through local history. When in New Plymouth, you can't leave without walking or riding along the Coastal Walkway, or trying the first-rate mince on toast. Welcome to Taradise.

See & Do

Climb to the summit of the famous maunga, enter a world of kinetic art and follow a winding walkway right along the coast.

A city of kinetic art

Distorting reality since 2015, the wavy reflective walls of the city's the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre are so fascinatingly attractive that it's tempting just to admire them, and then move on. That would be a mistake, because behind those undulating walls of polished stainless steel is a fascinating collection of this famous New Zealand sculptor's art and kinetic works that has a wide appeal. Whether you're inclined more towards art or engineering, you'll find something to enjoy and appreciate in his ingenious structures. Read more

The fun at the Len Lye centre begins before you step inside. BROOK SABIN

The fun at the Len Lye centre begins before you step inside. BROOK SABIN

Pukekura Park is a Garden of National Significance. BROOK SABIN

Pukekura Park is a Garden of National Significance. BROOK SABIN

Move over Central Park

Most major cities worth visiting have a slice of greenery at their hearts — think New York’s Central Park, London’s Regent Park and Vancouver’s Stanley Park. Although on a much smaller scale, New Plymouth’s contribution to the city/park phenomenon is Pukekura Park, a 52ha sanctuary that first opened as a sports venue in 1876 but has since become a much loved public recreation ground. Pass through the Art Deco-inspired gates and you’ll enter a world of fernery and gardens, two lakes, an historic band rotunda and the Bowl of Brooklands. There are also children’s play areas and bush walks. 

A free day out with the animals

There are only a few zoos around the world that are free and New Plymouth's inner-city animal park, Brooklands Zoo, is one of them. You'll find everything from meerkats, otters, squirrel monkeys, leopard geckos, the critically endangered cotton-top tamarin (a small monkey), alpacas, and the resident food guzzlers: kunekune pigs. The zoo is a delight for kids, with a playground and picnic area. Read more

The Coastal Walkway includes a stop at Len Lye's Wind Wand. BROOK SABIN

The Coastal Walkway includes a stop at Len Lye's Wind Wand. BROOK SABIN

Walking the waterfront

The 12.7km Coastal Walkway hugs the sea-edge along New Plymouth, punctuated with iconic landmarks like the Wind Wand and Te Rewa Rewa bridge — designed to look like a breaking wave or whale skeleton. It also perfectly frames the towering cone of Mt Taranaki in the background. It'll take you about 2.5 hours to walk the entire length, passing inland lagoons, beaches, parks, an inner-city surf beach and the city's promenade. It's also an ideal bike track.

The Festival of Lights takes over Pukekura Park for six weeks. BROOK SABIN

The Festival of Lights takes over Pukekura Park for six weeks. BROOK SABIN

The best times to be in Taranaki

For six weeks every summer, New Plymouth flicks the switch on the TSB Festival of Lights, an open-air exhibition featuring stunning light works and a programme of events. The family-friendly event invites visitors to hop between both static and interactive installations in Pukekura Park, from floating origami to ultra-violet spaghetti. The dates for the summer edition of the annual light festival are yet to be announced, but there are several more events between the maunga and the coast worth planning your visit around. Read more

Insider tip: The much-loved light festival is popping up for four nights in June to coincide with the start of the Māori New Year.
Stephen Heard, travel publishing coordinator

A view worth climbing for

This ancient volcano, sitting very close to town, looms over the city. It's no secret that Paritutu Rock is a gnarly climb — with 100 metres of near vertical ascent, complete with a chain to help you up. The hike is worth the effort; after 15 minutes of pain getting to the summit, you'll be greeted with views over the Sugarloaf Islands, the city, and out towards the Taranaki Maunga.

The view from Paritutu Rock is even better at sunset - but be sure to descend before it gets too dark. BROOK SABIN

The view from Paritutu Rock is even better at sunset - but be sure to descend before it gets too dark. BROOK SABIN

The museum with a magical boat ride

Tawhiti Museum is a private museum of local South Taranaki history with a magical touch. Owner Nigel Ogle is the driving force behind and creator of this collection of life-size displays and intricate small-scale dioramas. Wētā Workshop has helped create a Disneyland-type ride through history. Sitting in a boat, you'll glide through the dark to a Māori village, witness a barter of flax for muskets, duck a battle at a pā where cannons fire across the bow. There's also an extensive collection of farm machinery and an outside railway that runs through the bush on reclaimed tracks. Read more

The indoor boat ride is accessed through a cave. BROOK SABIN

The indoor boat ride is accessed through a cave. BROOK SABIN

The great water tower of Hāwera

Hāwera's sturdy but elegant concrete water tower is a popular magnet for visitors. At 54 metres high it dwarfs the mostly single-storeyed buildings around it and provides splendid panoramic views for those prepared to climb the 215 spiral steps to the balcony. You need to borrow the door key from the Visitor Centre next door, paying just $2.50. In return you get such a spectacular 360-degree outlook of the coast, the town and Mt Taranaki, which dominates the landscape. Read more

Insider tip: Don't miss Kevin Wasley's Elvis Presley Memorial Room in Hāwera, the result of a lifetime's obsession with the King.
Pamela Wade, travel writer

NZ'S SECOND-OLDEST NATIONAL PARK

A superb one-day walk, accessible bushwalks and the opportunity to ascend to the summit of a volcanic peak are all highlights of Taranaki's Te Papakura o Taranaki/Egmont National Park.

Why go:

On a clear day, the soaring highlight of Te Papakura o Taranaki/Egmont National Park is the key reason you should always ask for a window seat on the right-hand side of the plane when flying from Auckland to Wellington.

Punctuated by the smaller Fanthams Peak, Mt Taranaki's perfect volcanic cone is surrounded by an equally symmetrical forested circle prescribing the rugged and protected limits of New Zealand's second-oldest national park.

Officially named Taranaki Maunga, after three centuries of being called Mt Egmont and 34 years of Taranaki/Mt Egmont, the peak visible across the region marks the location of one of New Zealand's best one-day walks.

Mountain scenery, volcanic activity and the brilliant reflections of compact alpine lakes are all highlights of the Pouākai Crossing, while the superb eight to 10-hour experience is just a more focused entree to the longer Pouākai Circuit.

When to go:

Most tracks in the national park should be walked from October to May with the best time during summer from December to March. Mt Taranaki's altitude ensures the weather can be very changeable, and it's vital to be prepared with warm clothing.

Including a waterfall, spectacular cliffs and a primeval swamp, the Pouākai Crossing is growing in popularity for good reason. You'll need to be reasonably fit to achieve a walk packed with highlights, including the reflective pools of the Pouākai Tarns, but rising for an early start is worth it so you can relive the action over drinks and dinner back in New Plymouth.

Tackling the Pouākai Crossing is definitely a big day, but trampers are seldom disappointed. The tramp starts at the North Egmont Visitor Centre on the mountain's northern side, and is serviced by shuttles from New Plymouth.

Also leaving from the Mt Taranaki's northern slopes, the Pouākai Circuit is an extended and equally spectacular spin on the Pouākai Crossing. Overnight accommodation is in DOC's Pouākai Hut.

The region's most challenging track is the ascent from the Egmont National Park Visitor Centre to the summit at 2518 metres. Expect a vertical ascent of around 1600m, and a challenging and strenuous poled track traversing rock- and scoria-strewn slopes. The summit track should only be attempted by fit trampers from December to April when snow and ice is confined to the crater.

Most easily accessed from Stratford, trails on the eastern side include the Manganui Gorge Track (one hour return), an easy walk beginning at the Plateau carpark at an altitude of 1172m, and the Kāmahi Loop Track (15-30 minute return), venturing into lush rainforest and the moss-cloaked trunks of kāmahi trees.

To the south are short walks to the Dawson Falls. Both the Kapuni Loop Track (one hour) and the Wilkies Pools Loop Track (80 minutes) incorporate the area's unique sub-alpine forests. The first 900m of the Wilkies Pools Loop (to the pools) is suitable for both baby buggies and wheelchairs, while the rest of the track can also be managed by children.

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THREE SHORT WALKS

Rātapihipihi Scenic Reserve Walk

If it’s subtropical rainforest you want, this 2km loop track will deliver. It takes around 45 minutes to complete the loop - but allow more time for photo stops, especially when you get to the Instagram-worthy waterfall. The track passes through coastal forest and two saw pits, remnants of historical logging operations. There’s also a sheltered picnic area where you can refuel.

Lake Mangamahoe. VENTURE TARANAKI

Lake Mangamahoe. VENTURE TARANAKI

Meeting of the Waters Trail

Just off State Highway 3, about 3km south of New Plymouth, there’s a choice of two separate walks - turn left onto the Meeting of the Waters Trail, right and you’ll find yourself on the longer Araheke Bush walk loop. The Meeting of the Waters Trail takes around 20 minutes to complete, whereas you could probably complete the latter in 45 minutes.

Meeting of the Waters. VENTURE TARANAKI

Meeting of the Waters. VENTURE TARANAKI

Lake Mangamahoe

A 10-minute drive from New Plymouth, you’ll find one of the most scenic walks in the region. This 6km loop trail skirts the stunning Lake Mangamahoe, powers up through forest and regenerated native bush and takes you to lookouts with views across the region. If you like birds, you’ll be in bird-spotter heaven. It should take 1.5 hours.

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Hidden Gems

Slip down a natural lava slide, visit the North Island's self-declared republic and follow a highway to world-class surf spots.

The scenic flight with volcanic action

The scenery starts straight away on Precision Helicopters’ Volcano Tour. Heading south, long and dramatically black beaches edged with lines of white surf border green farmland. The city sprawl, the pointy peak of Paritutu and the volcanic Sugarloaf Islands come into view. The fabulously perfect cone of Taranaki Maunga is a breathtaking sight. The flight hovers above the summit to show off this glory of nature. Read more

A republic with its own passport stamp

The self-declared republic of Whangamōmona doesn't take itself too seriously. A goat once won the presidency before being replaced by a poodle. The only way in is via the “Forgotten World Highway”, deep into an untamed wilderness between Taumarunui and Stratford. The buildings are quaint and the town is quiet, but once every two years thousands gather for Republic Day when visitors are asked to buy a passport to enter. It costs a few dollars for a Whangamōmona Passport, or you can get a stamp in your own passport for $2. Read more

The private museum of beasts

There’s almost every sort of beast you can imagine at Manutahi Taxidermy Museum, as well as others you’d never dream of. There’s a polar bear, a cheetah, flocks of exotic birds, a forest of antlers, a South American penguin and much more. They are strung from the ceiling, attached to the walls, standing on the floor, posed inside glass cases, or bundled up in the corner waiting to be mounted. John Ward is the artist behind many of these works of nature, though none of them died at his hand. John’s purpose is to preserve them for all to admire and appreciate, so they didn’t die in vain. Read more

The Goblin Forest is an easy walk for kids. BROOK SABIN

The Goblin Forest is an easy walk for kids. BROOK SABIN

Taranaki's secret goblin forest

The Goblin Forest is a thick belt of bush on the slopes of Mt Taranaki and the very definition of gnarly: trees twist and turn like ancient moss-covered fingers reaching from the depths of the soil. It all looks like an elaborate film set, but only nature could create something of this scale. Since Mt Taranaki erupted 400 years ago, the kāmahi tree has become dominant, growing on the stumps and logs. The result is a labyrinth of trunks all covered in thick dewy moss that looks like it’s home to hobbits, goblins and gremlins. The place is magical. Read more

The Three Sisters walk is spectacular. BROOK SABIN

The Three Sisters walk is spectacular. BROOK SABIN

Spectacular beach walks

This short beach walk, which is only accessible at low tide, involves a stroll along an estuary to reach the beach, where you’ll find three towering rock formations known as The Three Sisters. There are also several caves to explore, which the kids will love. Further south, you can explore the magnificent Whitecliffs Walkway loop. Head along the beach on the outgoing tide to enjoy the jagged cliff-lined beach before returning through a farmland track to your car. On a fine Taranaki day, you're in for a treat. Read more

There are several caves to explore. BROOK SABIN

There are several caves to explore. BROOK SABIN

The luge track is perfect for kids. BROOK SABIN

The luge track is perfect for kids. BROOK SABIN

With Mt Taranaki looming over the landscape, it makes driving in the region very scenic. BROOK SABIN

With Mt Taranaki looming over the landscape, it makes driving in the region very scenic. BROOK SABIN

Get to Whangamōmona on the stunning Forgotten Highway. BROOK SABIN

Get to Whangamōmona on the stunning Forgotten Highway. BROOK SABIN

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There are several caves to explore. BROOK SABIN

There are several caves to explore. BROOK SABIN

The luge track is perfect for kids. BROOK SABIN

The luge track is perfect for kids. BROOK SABIN

With Mt Taranaki looming over the landscape, it makes driving in the region very scenic. BROOK SABIN

With Mt Taranaki looming over the landscape, it makes driving in the region very scenic. BROOK SABIN

Get to Whangamōmona on the stunning Forgotten Highway. BROOK SABIN

Get to Whangamōmona on the stunning Forgotten Highway. BROOK SABIN

A slice of Africa near Stratford

This sprawling 13-hectare garden and woodland is a 15-minute drive from Stratford and is a majestic wonderland of native and exotic trees and shrubs. But what makes it unique is 40 (many life-size) sculptures of African animals dotted around the property. Kids will love going on a safari to find them all. There's also a fairy forest with three large doll houses, where children can enter and play inside. If you have little ones with a sense of adventure, the $5 entry fee is perhaps the best money you'll ever spend. Read more

Te Popo Gardens is one of the region’s best hidden gems. BROOK SABIN

Te Popo Gardens is one of the region’s best hidden gems. BROOK SABIN

Slide down an old lava tube 

The icy water of Mt Taranaki runs down multiple waterfalls into the crystal-clear Wilkies Pools on the southeastern side of the maunga. The pools were formed from an ancient lava flow with years of water creating the series of hollowed-out ponds. In summer, they are popular with those who brave the alpine waterfall and slip down a natural slide into the water below. A climb up a steep, rocky slope next to the pools leads to a view of Mt Taranaki's peak. Read more

Milarky’s giant astronaut on the facade of Escape Coffee Roasters. NEAT PLACES

Milarky’s giant astronaut on the facade of Escape Coffee Roasters. NEAT PLACES

An art lover's guide

In recent years Taranaki has deservedly earned a reputation for being one of the most creative centres in Aotearoa. Home to street art, internationally acclaimed galleries, studios and community galleries. Some of the best art experiences that the region has to offer include New Plymouth’s museum and library Puke Ariki to learn more about the city and region’s history and rich cultural scene. In Stratford, the Fenton Street Arts Collective is a space for local artists to show their work, while the Nice Hotel is adorned with the extensive collection of local arts patron, Terry Parkes. Read more

A roadie to the rhododendrons

The 360-hectare Pukeiti is the best place in the country – possibly even the world – to see flowering rhododendrons and marvel at more than 1250 varieties of the star plant. The temperate rainforest and garden is located on the lower slopes of Mt Taranaki. At the entrance is the Treetop Walkway which slopes and winds invitingly, giving long views across the park, as well as to the mountain and the sea. There’s an education centre there too, a treehouse trail for the kids and a tunnel to a secret garden. Read more

Black Sand Pizzeria & Bistro sits right on the beach. SUPPLIED

Black Sand Pizzeria & Bistro sits right on the beach. SUPPLIED

The must-visit tiny town

Ōakura Beach has long been one of Taranaki's most popular family-friendly holiday spots. In summer, the resident population of 1600 swells as hundreds of holidaymakers spend their Christmas and New Year break soaking up the sun and enjoying the black sand beach and gentle rolling surf. Hit the waves, see shipwreck remains at low tide, eat authentic Napoletana pizza and take a selfie with the world's largest surfboard. Read more

New Zealand's newest thrill

The country's newest luge can be found at the Hillsborough Holden Museum, just 15 minutes' drive from central New Plymouth. Owners Steve and Joy Fabish spent the past couple of years designing and constructing the 240-metre-long ride. Children as young as five can ride and the carts are super simple to operate. The track lasts around a minute, with a few turns, and then you can catch a Thomas the Tank Engine train back to the start. The mini-putt course is also top-rated while car enthusiasts will find the country's largest collection of Holden cars and memorabilia inside. Read more

The property is also home to a popular mini golf course. BROOK SABIN

The property is also home to a popular mini golf course. BROOK SABIN

Hang ten down the surf highway

This is 100km of stunning views, whether you look left or right. Linking New Plymouth with Hāwera, the road follows the curve of the coast, running through cute little towns that are focused on their beaches and the relentless surf pounding in on them. The coastline comprises cliffs broken by sparkling black sand bays and coves, and the road runs along it inland, through neat farmland. To explore the route properly, you have to be prepared to turn off periodically, to get down to the water and see what’s been luring surfers, and others, here for decades. Read more

TOP SURF STOPS

Ōakura

The eight-metre-high board outside the surf shop is your first sign the seaside village of Ōakura is big on hanging ten. Located 15 minutes south of New Plymouth along the Surf Highway, the black sand beach is the main attraction here. The gentle rolling beach break dishes up right- and left-handers and can be perfect for beginners. And you don't have to skimp on the creature comforts. The Black Sand Pizzeria & Bistro serves up fresh pizza with views across the water and there are bathroom and changing facilities accessible.

Ōakura Beach. VENTURE TARANAKI

Ōakura Beach. VENTURE TARANAKI

Ōkato

Further south along State Highway 45 near the small rural village of Ōkato is Komene Road, another spot suitable for beginner surfers. The left-hand break is typically gentle, small and punchy at the southern end of the beach. More experienced riders should make a beeline for the legendary Kumera Patch or Stent Road just south of Ōkato. The famed right-hand break is regularly considered to be one of the best surfing spots in New Zealand. Graveyards, Rocky Lefts and Rocky Rights should also be left for intermediate surfers around here.

Surf Highway 45. VENTURE TARANAKI

Surf Highway 45. VENTURE TARANAKI

Ōpunakē

Just over the southern edge of the Taranaki hump is Ōpunakē. The small settlement and its half-moon beach really come to life in the warmer months. The beach is surfed for its beginner-friendly right- and left-handers – just keep an eye out for swimmers. The neighbouring Green Meadows should be left to the experts. The region is also known for the 7km Ōpunakē Loop Trail with lake, coast and country vistas. Then, follow the mural trail through town and finish off the day with a scoop at the local fish and chip shop.

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Eat & Drink

Wolf down Bavarian cuisine at a rest stop, follow the local craft beer trail, or start your day with hearty mince on toast.

A modern hub for food and fashion

Built in 1886, the White Hart Hotel is the dominant feature of what is now New Plymouth’s West End Precinct – a city block filled with gustatory treats. Set on a corner opposite the Len Lye Centre, the splendid Victorian façade is both eye-catching and elegant. Inside, a glass-roofed courtyard is surrounded by a range of eateries catering to every whim, taste and appetite. When you have chosen your treat – among the options are properly Italian pizza, Asian fusion sushi, classic meat and veg, or doughnuts, pastries, gelato, plus coffee, craft beers and wine – you can sit in the bright and busy courtyard and enjoy the vibe. Read more

The West End Precinct sits opposite the Len Lye Centre. VENTURE TARANAKI

The West End Precinct sits opposite the Len Lye Centre. VENTURE TARANAKI

Art with a side of eggs

Monica's Eatery is named after the founding benefactor of New Plymouth's Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. Situated at the sunny end of the Gallery, Monica's is a restaurant that is as well-suited to long lunches as it is perching at a communal leaner knocking back an early morning espresso. At breakfast time, the variations on eggs are hard to pass. Come lunch, expect wood-fired flatbreads and plates of pasta, best washed down with a glass of wine or something from the cocktail list. Read more

Bratwurst Bros is found on SH3 just before Mt Messenger. VANESSA LAURIE/TARANAKI DAILY NEWS

Bratwurst Bros is found on SH3 just before Mt Messenger. VANESSA LAURIE/TARANAKI DAILY NEWS

A sausage-themed rest stop

You can feast on a traditional German sausage just outside New Plymouth. Patrick Lachmann and partner Nathalie Van Dort operate Bratwurst Bros Rest Stop and Butchery Shop, offering coffee and traditional German cuisine, just before Mt Messenger heading north. Lachmann produces all the meat products himself, with a butchery and smokehouse behind the rest stop. Currywurst is one of their popular traditional dishes. As well as selling food on the go, they sell sausages, bacon, and smoked cheese to take away. Read more

Taranaki-famous mince on toast

You can't visit New Plymouth without trying the signature mince on toast from Elixir Café. The sloppy dish is so famous at the Devon Street East eatery that brunch-goers can even walk out with their own souvenir t-shirt – in black or burgundy. The famed dish sees two thick-cut slices of white tank loaf absolutely smothered with saucy mince. On top of the bread tower sits a free-range poached egg, and then the whole thing is coated with a generous drizzle of aioli. Read more

Elixir's mince on toast is a hearty start to the day. SUPPLIED

Elixir's mince on toast is a hearty start to the day. SUPPLIED

The best coffee in town

Established in 1998, and now with cafés in Auckland and London, Ozone Coffee Roasters is a New Plymouth success story. Ozone's HQ on King Street is the best spot in town for coffee. Start your day with an espresso or two from their flagship café and coffee roastery, and take home a bag of their beans as a memento from your trip. Read more

Gin cocktails are available for tasting on a tour at Juno. BROOK SABIN

Gin cocktails are available for tasting on a tour at Juno. BROOK SABIN

Intense and juicy gin

New Plymouth is taking the gin scene by force, with a popular startup called Juno leading the charge. The small city-based distillery run by Jo and Dave James is open to the public for a tour and tasting – at just $25 per person, it offers exceptional value. You'll be taken on a sensory journey through gin making and gain a new appreciation of botanicals. You can also upgrade to the Full Distillery Tour, which includes cocktails, canapés, and a wider array of gins. At $59, it's a fun-packed 90 minutes with friends. Read more

Food truck heaven

Hidden in central New Plymouth is one of the country's best foodie secrets, known as Liardet Street Projects – it’s food truck heaven. The small courtyard is home to everything from exceptional burgers, Spanish treats, poké bowls, Californian-inspired pizza, extraordinary South Indian and a popular Vietnamese option. You can eat your way around the world in just a few steps. Make sure to try a burger from Gamma Ray's – their "Take MOO to your leader" cheeseburger is unmissable. Read more

There are no shortage of delicious options at Liardet Street Projects. BROOK SABIN

There are no shortage of delicious options at Liardet Street Projects. BROOK SABIN

Meat dreams are made of these

In what was once New Plymouth's Salvation Army Citadel, you'll now find one of the city's hottest restaurants, Social Kitchen. Expect a meat-heavy menu of plates designed to be shared, though there's plenty on offer for non-meat eaters too. The house-made blue cheese gnocchi is a standout. On balmier evenings, there's no better spot to enjoy a jug of sangria and antipasto platter than Social Kitchen's sheltered outdoor courtyard. Read more

Pasta is the star of the show at State Pasta. NEAT PLACES

Pasta is the star of the show at State Pasta. NEAT PLACES

Fresh pasta done well

A relatively new kid on the block, State Pasta serves some of the best pasta in town. Here, the pasta is made fresh daily, and there's an emphasis on letting good quality ingredients sing. There's plenty of antipasto to snack on and keeping with Italian tradition, there's gelato by the scoop (made locally by Left Coast Gelato) and great tiramisu to round out your meal. Read more

MUST-VISIT TAPROOMS

Mike's Brewery & Bistro

Recognised as New Zealand's first craft brewery, Mike's has been a Taranaki institution since 1989. Initially based 30km up the coast at Urenui, they're now well-established on New Plymouth's main drag pouring beers and brews across more than 20 taps. Try the interesting Melculambicus, a Belgian-style sour beer infused with local honey. At 9%, it's definitely one to be sipped and savoured.

Mike's Brewery & Bistro. SIMON O'CONNOR/TARANAKI DAILY NEWS

Mike's Brewery & Bistro. SIMON O'CONNOR/TARANAKI DAILY NEWS

Shining Peak Brewing

Shining Peak Brewing landed on New Plymouth's Gill Street in 2019. Many of Shining Peak's brews are inspired by local characters, so you'll also be getting a Taranaki history lesson with beers like Fanny Fantham's lager or Dicky Barrett's English bitter. Shining Peak's recommended beer and food matches include smoked brisket croquettes with the Highwayman American pale ale, and there are also desserts inspired by different beers.

The Theoretical Brewer

Douglas Eng at The Theoretical Brewer has crafted a big reputation for well-made and balanced beers. Brews including his Mad Hatter hazy pale ale and coffee porter are often available at Mike's and The Hour Glass, or direct from Douglas at his taproom just north of the city. Plans for later in 2022 include teaming beer and low and slow barbecue from The Theoretical Brewer's Bell Block location.

Three Sisters Brewery. SIMON O'CONNOR/TARANAKI DAILY NEWS

Three Sisters Brewery. SIMON O'CONNOR/TARANAKI DAILY NEWS

Three Sisters Brewery

Adding a funky sheen to the heritage bones of the New Plymouth Savings Bank building, Three Sisters' urban taproom is a cool spot to try some of the region's most interesting beers. Recent brews include Lila, a juniper-infused witbier made with the distillers of Taranaki's Juno Gin, and Soor Plooms, a pastry stout packed with zingy stone fruit. Fourteen beer taps and walls adorned with scores of different beer labels is evidence of the creativity of co-owner and head brewer, Joe Emans.

Forgotten 43 Brewing

This rustic brewery and taproom on Stratford's Broadway is a welcoming spot that's quickly become a popular focus for the heartland town. Beers to try include Lord Nelson pale ale, made with Sauvin hops from the Tasman region, and Krakin, a warming chocolate and chilli stout. An imminent move is set to relocate the taproom a few doors along to a larger space on the corner of SH43.

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Stay

Book out the country's most affordable treehouse, sleep in an elegant post office and find a slice of luxury in the countryside.

Sleep between the branches

A night in a treehouse can be an expensive affair, but Pukeiti's treetop escape has gone in the opposite direction. If you grab 12 people for a night in the bush, it'll only cost $12.50 per person a night. It's an hour-long bush walk to find your bed for the night at Piwakawaka Family Hut. Once you arrive, you climb a set of stairs above the canopy to reveal panoramic views of the park and out to the coast. Inside, there are bunk beds, a log burner and some basic cooking utensils. You will need to walk in many of your supplies, like bedding, matches and even toilet paper. It's like camping, except you're in a tree hut. Read more

The hut can sleep up to 12 at no additional cost. BROOK SABIN

The hut can sleep up to 12 at no additional cost. BROOK SABIN

A royal stay in the CBD

The contemporary King & Queen Hotel Suites is located in the thick of New Plymouth’s cultural hub, right across the road from the Len Lye Centre/Govett Brewster Art Gallery and within walking distance of the Coastal Walkway. The boutique hotel has 28 luxurious, European-style rooms, while guests have 10 co-owned restaurants, bars and cafés to choose from in and around the West End Precinct for both sit-in and in-room dining.

An affordable waterfront escape

Fancy unwinding in a freestanding stone bath on the deck of your waterfront room while watching the sunset? Sounds like an expensive night away? New Plymouth’s Belt Road Seaside Holiday Park has a series of deluxe waterfront motel units with a super king bed and a room that overlooks the sea. But the pièce de résistance is an outdoor bath, complete with bath bombs. And you can be here for less than $200 a night. The units are also just a few minutes' stroll to the city's popular coastal walk. Read more

The secret luxury lodge

One of Taranaki's best luxury escapes is tucked away in rolling farmland with spectacular views of Mt Taranaki. This bed and breakfast-style Taranaki Country Lodge is just 15 minutes from New Plymouth. The lodge has two large rooms, with chocolates waiting for you on arrival. There is a large guest lounge with enormous windows perfectly framing Mt Taranaki. Here you can sit in front the fire and snack on an afternoon cheese platter, while watching the mountain. An exceptional continental breakfast is included in your stay, and two or three-course dinner can be provided from $40 per person. Read more

Taranaki Country Lodge has two rooms. BROOK SABIN

Taranaki Country Lodge has two rooms. BROOK SABIN

Find the Old Post Office in Eltham. BROOK SABIN

Find the Old Post Office in Eltham. BROOK SABIN

The post office palace

In the centre of Eltham is a building known as The Old Post Office which goes back to 1905. Inside is a palatial suite, complete with grand chandeliers, a freestanding bath, an enormous shower and one of the comfiest beds you'll find. The suite has been immaculately designed, effortlessly mixing the building's character features with European flair. The extraordinary refit was completed last year by hosts David and Maria Hancock, who even offer to bring a home-cooked dinner to your suite. It's one of the best bed and breakfast experiences you can try. Read more

SMALL TOWN STAYS

The Bungalow

The Bungalow overlooks the Tasman Sea on the beautiful Taranaki coastline and with views of Taranaki Maunga. The seaside wedding and events space also offers luxury accommodation. This homestead built in the 1920s is situated south of the popular Ōakura village. With room for 11 guests across five double rooms, it’s a great escape for a large group and is not too far from the city centre. If you’re in search of some peace and tranquillity, somewhere to relax with spectacular views, then The Bungalow is for you. 

Stratford Mountain House. ANDY JACKSON/TARANAKI DAILY NEWS

Stratford Mountain House. ANDY JACKSON/TARANAKI DAILY NEWS

Stratford Mountain House

Rich in local Māori history, Stratford Mountain House is popular with intrepid travellers and interested locals alike. The House is part of the Te Runanga o Ngāti Ruanui Trust, caregivers of Taranaki Maunga. These lodgings are situated on original Ngāti Ruanui rohe (tribal homelands). The building's modern life began in 1913, when it operated as a telephone office under the name Potaema. Today you can stay in a mountain chalet, and enjoy their onsite restaurant.

River Belle Glamping

River Belle Glamping is located on a secluded working farm on the outskirts of Egmont Village, by the Mangaoraka Stream. The ‘tent’ is a spacey geometric dome with a luxe fit-out. Complete with indoor fire and electric blankets, this is the perfect year-round couples retreat. And just as every good glamping spot requires, there is an outdoor bath. The view from the tub includes the vista of Taranaki Maunga.

Tairoa Lodge. VANESSA LAURIE/TARANAKI DAILY NEWS

Tairoa Lodge. VANESSA LAURIE/TARANAKI DAILY NEWS

Tairoa Lodge

Located in South Taranaki’s Hāwera, the grand Victorian Tairoa Lodge was established in 1875. With space aplenty, there are options to stay in The Lodge, The Cottage or The Gatehouse. Stroll through the award-winning gardens or take a dip in the pool. Sumptuous breakfasts and dinners are served in the grand dining room, or DIY Kiwiana fare using one of their onsite barbecues.

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Hosking House. BROOK SABIN

Hosking House. BROOK SABIN

Taranaki Country Lodge. BROOK SABIN

Taranaki Country Lodge. BROOK SABIN

Belt Road Camping. BROOK SABIN

Belt Road Camping. BROOK SABIN

Old Eltham Post Office. BROOK SABIN

Old Eltham Post Office. BROOK SABIN

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Hosking House. BROOK SABIN

Hosking House. BROOK SABIN

Taranaki Country Lodge. BROOK SABIN

Taranaki Country Lodge. BROOK SABIN

Belt Road Camping. BROOK SABIN

Belt Road Camping. BROOK SABIN

Old Eltham Post Office. BROOK SABIN

Old Eltham Post Office. BROOK SABIN

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Maunga Taranaki from Te Rewa Rewa bridge. SUPPLIED

Maunga Taranaki from Te Rewa Rewa bridge. SUPPLIED

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Visuals: Brook Sabin

Words: Brook Sabin, Stephen Heard, Siobhan Downes, Juliette Sivertsen, Lorna Thornber, Alan Granville, Pamela Wade, Sharon Stephenson, Brett Atkinson, Ruby Turner

Editors: Stephen Heard, Trupti Biradar

Stuff Travel's Go To Guides are created in partnership with Tourism New Zealand