From kitesurfing to dam dropping, here are 5 of the best adventure activities in Taranaki, New Zealand.
On the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand, in between Auckland and Wellington lies one of the country’s best adventure destinations – Taranaki.
Home to epic surf breaks and jagged mountains, there is no shortage of amazing adventure activities in Taranaki. Whether you’re looking to live life on the edge or just enjoy the beautiful nature around the town, you’ll be sure to fall in love with this coastal paradise.
Three Things That You Probably Didn’t Know About Taranaki.
- Taranaki, perched on the West Coast North Island of New Zealand was voted by The Lonely Planet in 2017 as the 2nd best region in the world to visit.
- The locals call Taranaki ‘Taradise’. Visit, and you will see why.
- if you visit Taranaki you must get either the teeshirt or the bumper sticker to prove you have been – and survived. This souvenir is embossed with ‘Taranaki Hardcore’ or ‘God made Taranaki so that the hardcore had somewhere to live’. You get the picture. If you are looking for a region with adventure, then you will not be disappointed with New Zealand’s hidden spot, Taranaki.
5 Adventure Activities In Taranaki
Visit at any time of the year, and you will be rewarded with ample adventure activities.
Here are my top 5.
Mt Taranaki, the 2,518m stratovolcano that dominates the region, calls to the adventurer to pass on the more sophisticated ski slopes of New Zealand and ski with the big boys and girls.
Serviced by just a T-bar for the beginner-intermediate and a rope tow which takes you to about 300m of fall line skiing, Manganui ski field the opposite of commercial.
You will find a small café serving pies but nothing else. You must hike from the carpark to the slopes. Think of it as an excellent warm-up before a fabulous days skiing.
But once on the slopes, you will experience skiing as it was back in the 1970s (Cough, not that I’d know). Because of the lack of amenities skiers tend to head further afield leaving you to enjoy the beautiful slopes like a local.
The scenery is amazing. You will be able to ski while checking out the surf for later on in the day.
Although several of the spots are pretty rocky for launching, Taranaki rips for kite surfing. Because of its protruding location on the West coast of the North Island, Taranaki is more often than not windy.
And those winds are strong, making it the ideal spot for those with a kite surfing addiction.
Expert windsurfers rave about Taranaki, making it one of the most popular places in New Zealand to kite surf.
Ahu Ahu Road, Weld Rd and Oakura Beach are three of the best spots close to the city of New Plymouth. There is freedom camping at all of these places so you can simply rock up and wait for a windy day.
Mt Taranaki dominates the region of Taranaki. Rising above the clouds, the 2518 m summit of this dormant volcano offers spectacular views to those who make the challenging climb to its peak.
Mt Taranaki has erupted 160 times in the past 36,000 years. The last being in 1954. This giant is both mystifying and unpredictable.
Evoking tears and snatching the lives of those attempting to climb it while at the same time leaving photographers in awe at its beauty.
In the winter the mountain is covered in snow, the air is cold and most days bring blue skies. However, conditions are treacherous.
Please make sure you have all the necessary equipment such as ice axe, crampons and a lot of alpine mountaineering experience if you are set on climbing this mountain in the winter.
Personally, I recommend you leave the climb until the summer, with the best times being February to mid-April. Climb Mt Taranaki in these months, and you will be rewarded with beautiful sunsets and sunrises.
The mountain bike trail at Lake Mangamahoi (affectionately called Mangas by the locals) is a mass of woodland trails circling the lake of Mangamahoi.
With hundreds of kilometres of trails ranging from a Slice of Heaven to Highway to Hell, you have the choice to be challenged or to take it easy and enjoy the scenery.
You will be surrounded by pine and native rimu trees and the silence that prevails makes way for the calling of the native birds. Probably the only guest you will encounter should you choose an early morning weekday ride.
If you are travelling with kids, there are some excellent trails that while still managing to give them a workout stay away from the more extreme trails.
The tracks are free to use and offer up the most amazing views of Mt Taranaki in the background. Although there are toilets, there isn’t a café so be sure to bring a snack with you.
A detour off Surf Highway 45 will lead you to the Normandy dam on Waingongoro river. Standing 10m high this is the place to indulge in the local sport of dam dropping.
You can either take a kayak and fall over the edge into the crashing white water or else get Taranaki hardcore and get down the same way as the local kids do.
Either by using a piece of polystyrene or an old inner tube from their dad’s farm. As terrifying as it may seem it must be highly addictive.
If you visit on a warm summers day the dam is frequented by streams of locals looking for a way to wind down after a hard day at work.
Everything about Taranaki screams extreme adventure. From the volcano that looms over the region, to the wild crashing surf with its black sand beaches that challenge you to walk barefooted in the summer without being burnt.
Taranaki is not for the lighthearted, hence the reason you must wear the tee-shirt claiming you to be a Taranaki Hardcore.
Taranaki is home to me and I love it. It is magnificent. The atmosphere here is that of excitement and energy. Within this wild energy is a sublime feeling of anticipation.
Almost as though everyone is calmly waiting for something to happen. I’m not entirely sure what that thing is.
Maybe it’s the surfers waiting for the next perfect wave to show up on one of the regions many fantastic surf beaches.
Or perhaps everyone is just waiting for the mountain to explode.
Whatever it is it feels both exciting, adventurous and alive.
Need a room? Book here through booking.com for your Taranaki area accommodation.