29 May The Best 5 Walks for Young Families visiting Taranaki on Holiday
On your next visit to Taranaki with the kids, be sure to check out one of these five family-friendly walks! With easy trails, gorgeous native bush, and trickling streams, these walks are ideal for all skill types and ages. Let your imagination run wild and enjoy a little escape from the bustling noise of the main city.
1. Huatoki Walkway
The Coastal Walkway gets much of the attention for must-do walks in New Plymouth, but the Huatoki Walkway is a wonderful track your family will love to explore.
Stretching from the heart of the main city, this gently graded walk follows the path of the Huatoki River. From its river mouth (at the Wind Wand on the Coastal Walkway) to its head above the Huatoki Domain, this beautiful track winds its way behind city office blocks and residential housing, through developed parkland and scenic native bush.
Access points include Hempton Street, Harris Street, Carrington Street, Maratahu Street, Frankley Road, Glenpark Avenue, Sycamore Grove, Parsons Street, Marian Grove, Camden Street, Brois Street, Budleigh Street, and Woodleigh Street.
2. Ratapihipihi Scenic Reserve Walk
This peaceful 45-minute walk through the lush, temperate rainforest is a great spot to take the family. Pack a picnic, keep your eyes peeled for fairies, and listen to the rushing sound of a small waterfall.
Ratapihipihi Scenic Reserve has an abundance of glossy-leaved kohekohe, tawa, pukatea, and nikau palms while the track is well-graded and crosses a stream to a small scenic waterfall just a few metres beyond the first track exit.
As you come around the edge of the forest at the track’s end you can see a wall of foliage that comes out to meet the light. In here are trees that were planted in earlier years, to represent trees from outside the region. These include kauri, beech, and tanekaha.
With its nikau palms and dappled light, this track looks like a walk in the tropics. It’s well worth a visit.
3. Wilkies Pools
The Wilkies Pools Loop Track is a family favourite. The 1.9km track takes 1hr 20min to complete the loop, or just a quick 20 minutes to get to the pools, which are a great spot for a cool dip in the heat of summer.
The first 900m of the track to the pools is baby buggy/wheelchair friendly with the remainder of the track good for children.
The track winds through the ‘Goblin Forest’, crossing the swing bridge over the Kapuni Stream to reach the turnoff to the small lava formed Wilkies Pools. Families may want to return the same way – continuing around the loop requires some rock hopping across Kapuni Stream.
Return to the signpost to continue around the loop, past small waterfalls, bubbling springs, and the intake weir for the power station. Although more off the beaten track than the path to get to the pools, the loopback is fun and adds to the adventure.
4. Koru Pā
A short walk over farmland outside Ōakura leads to Te Koru Pā historic reserve. The river-stone terracing of the ditches and banks – only found in this part of Taranaki – is the most elaborate in the region.
Koru Pā is thought to be one of the first Māori settlements in Taranaki and one of the most intact pā sites remaining in the region.
The pā belonged to the Ngā Mahanga-a-Tairi people. Sometime between 1800 and 1805 the pā was attacked and taken by a Te Āti Awa war party from Rewarewa (at the mouth of the Waiwhakaiho River) and Puketapu (Bell Block).
It’s an easy walk for the family and once rich with history. Kids will love exploring the bush and discovering old dwelling sites, defensive ditches, stone riveting, rua pits, and the eight terraces to the summit where the paramount chiefs would have lived, 24m above the river.
Located adjacent to the National Park – on the slopes of Taranaki – Pukeiti features several kilometres of well-formed tracks for either a garden walk or a longer adventure into the rainforest.
Wander through a world-class rhododendron collection and learn the stories of the land, then grab a bite to eat at The Founders Café located at the garden’s entrance.
An extra special adventure for families is the 40-minute self-guided Kids Treehouse Trail. This activity through the gardens will have the whole family looking for hidden facts and questions.
As part of the experience, children are also encouraged to use all their senses to try to find signs of the different creatures that live there.