Home to a very distinctive mountain
Taranaki

Rising 2,518 metres, the cone-shaped volcanic peak of Mt Taranaki (Mt Egmont) is a dramatic feature of the Taranaki region. Important both spiritually and physically, this mountain exerts its presence on the weather, the environment and the people that live around it. And of course, where there’s a mountain, there’s adventure.

But there’s much more to Taranaki than just the mountain. There’s also over 150 km of rugged coastline with incredible rock formations, beautiful beaches and a number of world-class surf breaks. Sitting roughly in the middle of this coast is the seaside city of New Plymouth which comes alive in summer with music festivals and events.

Taranaki has gotten a lot of exposure thanks to being named as Lonely Planet’s second best region in the world to visit in 2017. While these kinds of rankings don’t hold much sway on us, we do think that Taranaki is definitely worth visiting if you have the time and are not in a rush to get to the South Island like most.

Here are approximate travel times and distances to and from New Plymouth.

Drive times

  • Auckland to New Plymouth: 360 km / 224 miles – 5 hours 30 minutes
  • Wellington to New Plymouth: 350 km / 217 miles – 5 hours 10 minutes
  • New Plymouth to Whanganui: 160 km / 99 miles – 2 hours 10 minutes
  • New Plymouth to Taupo (via Piopio): 275 km / 171 miles – 3 hours 40 minutes
  • New Plymouth to Taupo (via Highway 43): 300 km / 186 miles – 4 hours 30 minutes

Note that Highway 43 is also known as the Forgotten World Highway. While this route is very scenic, there is still a section that is unsealed/gravel. Road conditions can be slippery at times and caution is advised when driving this route.

Travel times can vary significantly, particularly in popular areas during peak visitor months (December – February). For current travel times and updates on delays, roadworks and road closures, use the NZ Transport Agency journey planner before travelling. It’s always a good idea to allow extra time for photo stops and, when travelling longer distances, rest stops.

Flights
New Plymouth airport is located 15 minutes from the city centre by car/taxi/shuttle.

  • Auckland (AKL) to New Plymouth (NPL): 50 minutes
  • Wellington (WLG) to New Plymouth (NPL): 55 minutes
  • Christchurch (CHC) to New Plymouth (NPL): 1 hour 30 minutes

Jutting out into the Tasman Sea, this ‘bump’ on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island has a rather unique climate, influenced by both the sea and the mountain. The oceanic climate makes for moderate temperatures and while it’s usually sunny, Taranaki is first to feel the effects of weather systems approaching from the Tasman Sea, making it one of the windiest regions in the country. Interestingly, Mt Taranaki has a rain-shadow effect with typically less rain falling on the east and south sides of the mountain.

In summer (December – February) the average high is 21 °C / 69.8 °F and average low is 13 °C / 55.4 °F but temperatures can reach 30 °C on hotter days. In winter (June – August) the average high is 14 °C / 57.2 °F and average low is 6 °C / 42.8 °F

Check current conditions and get the latest New Plymouth weather forecasts on MetService.com. At just over 2,500 metres, the mountain has its own weather so if you are planning any outdoor activities on or around the mountain it’s also worth checking out the Egmont National Park forecast. Bear in mind that regardless of the season, mountain conditions can change quickly and temperatures fluctuate significantly so be prepared for any conditions with layered, waterproof clothing.


Featured Taranaki adventures

Looking for ideas to help you plan the ultimate New Zealand outdoor adventure? Here are some of the top things for active travellers to see and do in the Taranaki region.

Explore Egmont National Park

With three entry points from the northeast, east and southeast, Egmont is one of the most accessible of New Zealand’s national parks. And with over 300 km of walking tracks from short nature walks to epic multi-day treks, the park has something to offer every level of adventurer. There’s even a summit climb for those who are fit and well prepared, bearing in mind that this should only be attempted in good weather.

There are two Department of Conservation (DOC) visitor centres on the mountain at North Egmont and Dawson Falls which have displays and track information. You can also find out more on the DOC website.

Mt Taranaki - Photo: PhotoImages/Bigstock.com

Visit Tongaporutu and the White Cliffs Walkway

Tongaporutu is a small coastal settlement approximately 65 km / 40 miles north of New Plymouth. This stretch of constantly changing coastline is well known for its spectacular layered rock formations including what now remains of the once iconic Elephant Rock. This beach and the nearby White Cliffs Walkway are well worth exploring although careful attention to the tides is important as access is only safe at low tide.

Tongaporutu - Photo: christian_b/Bigstock.com

Drive Surf Highway 45

Highway 45 is a 105 km / 65 mile stretch of road that follows the Taranaki coast from New Plymouth in the north to Hawera in the south. The coastline is home to numerous world-class surf breaks including 4 of New Zealand’s 19 nationally significant surf breaks. The unique shape of the curving coastline means that no matter what the wind and swell direction, you should be able to find good conditions. Even if you don’t intend to surf, it’s still a worthwhile scenic drive.

Surf Highway 45