TARANAKI REGION - NEW ZEALAND
Taranaki , on the North Island 's west coast, juts into the Tasman Sea and is half way between Auckland and Wellington .
Mount Taranaki is ever-present in this regionâ€”a huge, dramatic volcanic cone with a snowy top. The mount is a spiritual and physical force in this region. It is the source of over 50 rivers and streams, the home of many botanically unique plants, and the subject of many stories and legends. On sighting the mountain in 1642, explorer Abel Tasman said it was "the noblest hill I've ever seen".
In the Maori language, Taranaki means ' Gliding Peak ', a name that ties to the legend of how the mountain came to its location. As the story goes, Taranaki once lived with the North Island's other great volcanoes ( Tongariro , Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe ) but was banished for falling in love with Tongariro's wife, a smaller volcano called Pihanga . Taranaki went west towards the setting sun and carved out the Whanganui river as he went.
As of the 2006 Census, the Taranaki region held a resident population of 104,124.
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NZstays - Hightlights of Taranaki
The Egmont National Park encompasses the mountain and the land around it. Hiking is the thing to do here. Lush rainforest covers the foothills of the mountain, but the landscape changes the higher you go—from tall rimu and kamahi trees at lower altitudes through dense subalpine shrubs to an alpine herb field with some plants unique to the park.
The forest on Mount Taranaki `s middle slopes is sometimes known as ` Goblin Forest ` because of the gnarled shape of the trees and the thick swathes of trailing moss. In winter, Mount Taranaki becomes a place to ski.
The area around the sunny city of New Plymouth is well-known for its black sand surfing beaches and glorious parks and gardens, particularly the dazzling array of rhododendrons and azaleas on display in spring. Many magnificent private gardens are open for public viewing year round.
In contrast with its outdoorsy lifestyle, New Plymouth has an artsy side—it`s home to the acclaimed Govett -Brewster Art Gallery, New Zealand`s only contemporary art museum with a permanent collection.
NZstays - Main Centres in Taranaki
New Plymouth - the major city of the province and a good base from which to explore the region.
Hawera - a good base to explore South Taranaki.
Stratford - an excellent spot to stay for those wanting to explore the mountain.
In the rhododendron season, New Plymouth’s parks and gardens are beautiful to behold. Or pull on your hiking boots and aim for Mount Taranaki.
You’ll enjoy Eltham for its pretty Victorian buildings. The main employer here is a cheese factory – buy something tasty for the picnic basket.
If you love milk and cheese, schedule a stop in Hawera – home of the southern hemisphere’s largest single site dairy factory.
If you travel ‘Surf Highway 45’, you can’t miss Opunake. Stay a while to enjoy the beach and the historic walkway, which ends at Te Namu Pa.
If you’re passing through Patea, stop and ask a local to sing Poi-E for you. It’s one of New Zealand’s favourite songs and it was invented here.
The town of Stratford looks after hikers, bikers and climbers who plan to venture into the Egmont National Park. Mount Taranaki is right next door.
Bridge swinging is a Waitara specialty, or you could arrange to tour magnificent Manukorihi Pa. North Taranaki is full of surprises.