The Taranaki lifestyle has become the stuff of legend. The region is known as the energy province of New Zealand, as much for the rich mineral resources underneath it, as the energised landscape and welcoming locals who reside there.
At its heart – both geographically and spiritually – stands Mount Taranaki, a natural playground and proud regional icon. Nestled on the coast, the progressive capital city of the region – New Plymouth, was judged New Zealand’s Top Town by influential North & South magazine.
In Taranaki it’s easy to achieve an enviable lifestyle, without having to compromise your career. The region’s dynamic surf, multitude of parks and gardens, iconic walkways, major events calendar and mountain playground make it a great place to live.
Add to that the minimal traffic, low unemployment and clean air and water, and you’ll soon see why this safe and stimulating community is the perfect place to call home – whether you’re seeking a better lifestyle, starting a family, or simply looking for a change.
Every day people take the opportunity to cycle, walk, run and skate on New Plymouth’s multi-award-winning walkway beside the Tasman Sea.
If you are looking for Taranaki on a map of New Zealand, you’ll see it’s the bump on the west coast of the North Island. Located halfway between the main centres of Auckland and Wellington, the region is characterised by the 2518m Mount Taranaki, in Egmont National Park.
Beyond New Plymouth there are smaller towns and villages all around Mount Taranaki with lifestyle blocks and farms in-between. This means you can choose between city, small town or rural life, and pick whether to live by the sea or further inland.
Taranaki is home to 110,000 people, most of whom live in the coastal city of New Plymouth. The region is split into three districts:
At the heart of the region - both geographically and spiritually - is the picture-perfect 2518m peak of Mount Taranaki
The Taranaki ring plain spreads out from Mount Taranaki like a skirt striped with rivers, and has rich free-draining volcanic soils that support pastoral farming. The Taranaki hill country to the east is steeply dissected by river valleys that are affectionately known as ‘the wopwops’.
There’s also the fabulous coastal environment, which edges Taranaki from Patea in the south, right around to Mokau in the north. Warm iron sand lines the shores, and children and adults alike enjoy swimming on the many beautiful beaches throughout the region.
Climate and weather
Taranaki boasts a temperate climate with high sunshine hours and abundant rainfall, which combine to make it lush, green and fertile. Temperatures are pleasant and mild all year round, making it an ideal place for outdoor activities. Average winter temperatures range between 6°C and 14°C, and summer temperatures a comfortable 13°C to 22°C, with the highest temperature recorded as 30°C. On average New Plymouth receives 2,197 hours of sunshine annually, one of the highest in New Zealand.
Daylight saving starts on the last Sunday in September when clocks go forward an hour, and ends on the first Sunday of April, when the clocks go back an hour.
In January 2015 New Plymouth shattered the New Zealand record for sunshine hours in a month with 356 hours - well up on the previous record of 336 hours set in Nelson in 1934.
Taranaki people are known for their friendly and resourceful ‘can do’ attitude. They are incredibly proud of their homeland – turangawaewae, which in Maori means ‘place where I stand’. Many people from a variety of different cultures and countries have moved to Taranaki for work and lifestyle. These people now call Taranaki their home, adding variety and vibrancy to the community.
History and culture
Taranaki has a vivid and colourful history that is rich in both legend and spirit. The region has seen more than its fair share of wars, beginning with bloody battles between the Maori tribes that first settled the region in the 13th century. European settlement of New Plymouth began in earnest in 1841, as did the initial opposition to land sales by local Maori. This was to become a defining aspect of the region’s history for over 150 years, with the Taranaki Land Wars drawing more than 3,500 colonial troops into the region.
Parihaka Pa became the first place in the world where passive resistance was used when the prophets Te Whiti O Rongamai and Tohu kakahi led their people in non-violent protest in reaction to the confiscation of their lands. Mount Taranaki also has a colourful story behind its origin. According to Maori legend, Taranaki sat in the centre of the North Island with the other mountain gods, Tongariro, Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe who were all in love with nearby Pihanga. Taranaki made advances towards Pihanga but was banished by a furious Tongariro. A grief filled Taranaki moved towards the setting sun, gouging the Whanganui river along the way.
Many of the stories about Taranaki’s past are told at Puke Ariki, a world-class interactive museum, library and information centre in New Plymouth. Its galleries explore the region’s natural, geological and human interest stories, and a dynamic exhibition and events programme puts the spotlight on specific aspects of the region’s culture.
Just out of Hawera in South Taranaki is the widely renowned Tawhiti Museum created by artist Nigel Ogle. It relays Taranaki’s heritage through life-size and scale models of Taranaki people and places, all of which are created on-site. Not to be missed is the remarkable Traders and Whalers exhibit – we highly recommend this as an introductory lesson into the region’s past, and to see why Tripadvisor users have judged it the third best museum in New Zealand – behind Te Papa and Auckland Museum.
Aotea Utanganui Museum of South Taranaki in Patea, and Taranaki Pioneer Village near Stratford also offer fascinating historical insights and are two of many museums scattered throughout the region which bring Taranaki’s past to life.
Taranaki has a vivid and colourful history that is rich in both legend and spirit.
Transport and amenities
Taranaki’s infrastructure and amenities are of a high standard and impressive for a region of its size. They include numerous libraries, town halls, art galleries, sports facilities and swimming pools, cycle and walk ways, museums, parks and reserves, theatres and stadiums, which are located throughout the region.
Taranaki is just far enough away from the rest of the world to retain its special character and charm. However this doesn’t mean it isn’t well connected. With its unique position in the middle of the North Island plus a variety of excellent transport networks, access to Auckland, Wellington and further afield is quick, easy and efficient. Whether you choose to take a stunningly scenic drive, hop on a regular commuter flight or bus, the rest of the world is within easy reach.
Walking and cycling
Since 2010, New Plymouth has been one of New Zealand’s two Walking and Cycling Model Communities, which has resulted in an expansive network of cycle trails, amenities, walkways and events to make it easy to leave the car at home. Facilities include a newly established ‘bike pod’ in central New Plymouth which provides secure lockers where workers can leave their bikes for the day.
Public bus services
There is a regular bus schedule servicing most areas of New Plymouth and Taranaki. CityLink weekday commuter services run on nine routes within urban New Plymouth, as well as between New Plymouth and Waitara, and New Plymouth and Oakura. School buses also operate within the District at appropriate times. SouthLink operate a weekly bus service to outlying towns.
Port Taranaki is one of the region’s best assets. It boasts the only deep-water harbour on New Zealand’s west coast while its main trade is in energy servicing and oil and gas and food production exports, it has welcomed cruise ships and every four years is the start point to the intrepid Solo Trans-Tasman yacht race.
New Plymouth Airport, located on the north side of the city, is home to award-winning café Airspresso, and connects Taranaki to the rest of New Zealand and the international airports that will take you overseas. Serviced by Air New Zealand Link, it’s only a 45 minute direct flight to or from Auckland or Wellington, and 85 minutes to or from Christchurch.
Taranaki’s many attractions are just a few hours’ drive away from other tourist spots in New Zealand. Roads are generally of a good standard and are constantly being upgraded. There is also a regular bus service in and out of Taranaki and you can drive to Auckland or Wellington in just 4.5 hours. Rental cars from a number of reputable companies can be arranged from the main centres or at New Plymouth Airport.
By air, land or sea, Taranaki is a highly accessible region – but is also ‘just far enough away’