13 May 10 Fun Free Things To Do in Taranaki for a Cheap Holiday
Going on holiday in New Zealand doesn’t have to be an extravagant affair, especially in Taranaki where there is an abundance of fun, free activities for all ages.
So put your wallet away and dive into our Top 10 Fun Free Things To Do on your next visit to our wonderful, coastal region.
1. Cruise the Coastal Walkway
At the top of the list has got to be the most obvious drawcard of Taranaki’s main city, New Plymouth. The Coastal Walkway is an award-winning 12.7km path that winds around the coast offering up some of the best seaside views.
The smooth path is perfect for walking, running, biking, and skating, and stretches from Port Taranaki to the eastern side of Bell Block Beach.
In the summer months, a pop-up café sits in a grassy area along the walkway making for the perfect stop to catch your breath over a cuppa before making your way across the picturesque Te Rewa Rewa Bridge.
2. Climb Paritutu Rock
Just around the corner from our holiday park sits a giant remnant of a volcano called Paritutu Rock. The 156-metre iconic sight is kept company by seven Sugar Loaf Islands – also volcano remnants.
This short but steep climb is a 20-minute challenge worth the 360-degree views from the top where you can see the coast wrap around the city while the beautiful mounga stands tall in the background.
On a clear day, you will be able to spot the North Island’s Central mountains, Mt Ruapehu, Mt Tongariro, and Mt Ngauruhoe. If you’re an early bird, the view at sunrise is something else.
3. Explore Pukekura Park
Pukekura Park is one of New Zealand’s premier botanical gardens. It has an international Green Flag award and is a Garden of National Significance.
The 52ha “jewel in New Plymouth’s crown” is the perfect peaceful escape from city sounds. Listen to the bird’s chirp, water rush, and the light crunch of the trail underneath your feet. Better yet? It’s only a 30–minute walk from our campground.
The park has a large playground featuring a flying fox and in-ground trampolines, Fernery and Display houses – three glass-topped caverns excavated into a hillside offering a wide variety of plants from around the world – and the free, family-friendly Brooklands Zoo.
4. Kayak Rotokare Scenic Reserve
Rotakare, otherwise known as ‘rippling lake’, is part of a peaceful and undisturbed bush reserve. The 230ha forested hill-country catchment features wetland and lowland forests home to hundreds of native plants and threatened wildlife species including kiwi, hihi/stitchbird, tieke/saddleback, popokatea/whitehead, and toutouwai/North Island robins.
Enjoy a quiet kayak on the lake or look out for happy birds fluttering about on a 2-hour walk. Bring that sense of tranquility back to the park and relax on your seaside cabin deck
5. Hang Ten off the Surf Highway
With 180 degrees of ocean swells, the spectacular Surf Highway along Taranaki’s coast is a surfer’s dream. Spend a day or two chasing the perfect wave at one of the many beaches around the region.
Taranaki gets the most swell and has the greatest concentration of quality spots on the North Island. Some of the best surf spots are a short drive from the main city centre and others will offer a quieter experience.
6. See Sea Life at Kawaroa Reef
A slightly different experience – ideal for families with young children or those keen on probing their curiosity – is to check out the sea life at Kawaroa Reef.
It’s fun to explore the rock pools and see how many creatures you can count – just don’t touch. Starfish, crabs, snails, and more can be found here. Plus, there’s a park nearby which offers a great spot to enjoy an outdoor lunch.
7. Feed Friendly Eels
New Plymouth’s city centre is known to have some of the friendliest eels. It’s not an uncommon sight to find people hunched over the water in the Huatoki Plaza tossing bits of food to dozens of the freshwater fish.
Tip: They are known to like raw chicken.
If you don’t have food to share, that’s fine. The eels will still come out as they are quite curious.
8. Forgotten World Highway
The highway traces the history of the region’s early pioneers into the isolated countryside of the Taranaki region. The highway is 155km leading to Taumarunui, passing through rough tunnels, the scenic Tangarakau Gorge, and the quirky Republic of Whangamomona.
For those feeling adventurous, the Matemateonga Track is a 3-4 day hike off the Forgotten World Highway near Stratford leading into the Whanganui National Park.
9. Walk Around Three Sisters
Pack yourself lunch and head out to Tongaporutu to see the Three Sisters. At low tide, you can walk alongside the river and around the point to find the formations.
In nearby caves, you can also view a rock drawing of a curious six-toed foot. Just be sure to check the tides as the formations are only accessible during low tide.
10. Drive Around the Mountain Tour
Pack in some of the region’s highlights in one day’s drive around the mountain starting from New Plymouth and following Surf Highway 45 through to Hawera and then back up SH3.
The scenery is next to none and you can create a checklist of all the must-sees, like Cape Egmont in Pungarehu and the Hawera Water Tower. Don’t miss an opportunity to take a photo next to Manaia’s giant bread sculpture or sample cheese at Eltham’s cheese shop. You can pay a small price to experience a movie in Opunake’s restored historical cinema, Everybody’s Theatre, or enjoy the free, quirky “show” at Stratford’s Glockenspiel.