Loving the ‘Naki

There is much more to Taranaki than its majestic mountain…

Driving along a rural Taranaki road, the snow-capped peak of Mt Taranaki shrouded in cloud behind us and the windswept beaches of Surf Highway 45 in front, we were unexpectedly forced to a sudden halt.

The road was cordoned off by a farmer so his cows could safely cross during milking time.

We did a three point turn and started back the way we’d come, only to stop a few hundred metres later to marvel over another peculiar sight (to us townies anyway) — a paddock full of playful calves leaping excitedly across the grass like frisky lambs, chasing a rather startled pūkeko.

It was a quintessential Taranaki experience, in a region punctuated by scenic beaches, mountain rainforest, spectacular gardens, verdant pasture, and its fair share of wayward cows.

Mount Taranaki

It is such an appealing place to visit in fact, that having driven a circuit around the region at Christmas while the plentiful pōhutukawa were in bloom, my daughter and I returned again in spring, to admire the rhododendrons and sample some more of the attractions on offer.

We started both our trips at Hāwera, where visitors can climb the 215 steps of a historic water tower for sweeping panoramic views across the countryside towards the coast and Mt Taranaki. From there we drove clockwise around the region using the ever-present mountain as our compass.

Read the full story by Julie Haines here