Taranaki the Garden of New Zealand

Soaring to a height of 2518 metres, Mt Taranaki, on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island, is a bountiful place which is so abundant it is home to ten of New Zealand’s best gardens, so really lives up to its reputation as the “Garden of New Zealand”.

For anyone contemplating that Taranaki has little else going for it except some beautiful gardens, they are sadly misguided. Taranaki is rich in Maori and Pakeha (European) history, and is an area of tremendous scenic beauty where those who have a love for physical pursuits will be able to indulge unto their hearts’ content.

The west coast’s consistent waves have a reputation which rivals the world’s best and provide an idyllic place for surfers. Surf breaks on Surf Highway 45 range from fast sandy beaches to epic rocky points, and the geography provides constant surfing opportunities.

Mt Taranaki is located in Egmont National Park. Here you will find many walks and alpine treks spanning the mountain slopes. Experienced snow and ice-climbers can reach the mountain peak with the assistance of professional guides. For those not quite so athletic the Kamahi track is an easy 10-minute nature walk. For a longer trek, the Poukai circuit is a three-day ramble around the mountain. One of the most popular hikes on the mountain, the Poukai offers impressive coastal views.

Mt Taranaki’s almost perfect volcanic cone has a commanding presence over the region. Taranaki is the North Island’s second highest, most-climbed and most accessible mountain. Its steep slopes and volcanic soil are covered in abundant native flora and fauna.

The Goblin Forest, on Mt Taranaki’s southern slopes, showcases the mountain’s unique natural environment – a lush rainforest that thrives in the region’s high rainfall and mild coastal climate, where hanging moss, ferns and gnarled tree trunks create a mystical ambience.

From early Maori settlement to the land wars and passive resistance, frequent signs of Taranaki’s colourful history give a sense of the struggles and challenges faced by early Maori and Pakeha settlers.

The New Zealand land wars that opposed Maori and Pakeha started in the town of Waitara, while the passive non-violence movement resisting land confiscation and colonisation originated in the village of Parihaka.

Taranaki’s rich heritage has inspired many museums and collections. From the significant Puke Ariki, on New Plymouth’s waterfront, to South Taranaki’s Tawhiti Musuem, and dozens of smaller private museums in between, there are many opportunities to discover Taranaki’s fascinating stories.

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