The lower west coast of the North Island isn’t an area we venture to often. Shame on us – Taranaki (or ‘the Naki’ as it’s affectionately referred to by locals) is a great place for a few days exploration. Here’s the inside scoop on where to bike when you get there.
The Forgotten World Cycle Trail
A great way to get to Taranaki, the Forgotten World Cycle Trail starts at Taumarunui and winds its way along gravel tracks, cycle trails and coastal scenery to the region’s main city, New Plymouth. It’s an 180km journey which takes between two to three days.
The New Plymouth Coastal Walkway
This 7km coastal promenade stretches almost the entire length of the city and can be walked or biked. From the east, you’ll pass the surf beaches at Fitzroy and East End. The central section of the walkway brings you alongside the region’s famous Wind Wand by late Kiwi artist Len Lye. From here you can detour into the central business district, home to heritage and information centre Puke Ariki and the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, or continue west to the marina, Ngamotu Beach and Paritutu Rock. A remnant of the region’s volcanic past, Paritutu can be climbed for unobstructed views of the Taranaki coastline, New Plymouth, and distant Mt Taranaki.
10 minutes south of New Plymouth is pretty, picturesque Lake Mangamahoe. There’s a 6km track running around the lake, plus a mountain biking area.
Around the Mountain
The Taranaki Cycle Challenge takes place every year – it’s a 148km road race around Mount Taranaki and the Egmont National Park. If you want to recreate the route in your own time, you can see the circuit here:
The Egmont National Park also offers an extensive network of walking tracks, ranging from a 15-minute stroll along the Kamahi Track to the three-day Pouakai Circuit. There’s also a maze of tracks around the Dawson Falls area.
Surf Highway 45
The coastal road from New Plymouth to Hawera offers great surf breaks, empty beaches, artist studios, historical sites, spectacular scenery and cozy cafés. A few places worth stopping at along the way: the 7km Opunake Walkway which ends at Te Namu pa site, once a fortified Maori village; the Cape Egmont Lighthouse and the 10m high Normanby Dam.
If gardens are your thing, time your visit to coincide with the Taranaki Fringe Garden Festival and the Powerco Taranaki Garden Spectacular, running from October 30, 2015 to November 8, 2015. During this time, private gardens around the region open for visits. Pick up a map and go explore – many can be accessed by bike! Admission fees vary for each garden.
Have a great week,
Image: Mount Taranaki by Geoff Pownall.