Destination Guide: Taranaki

There’s no shortage of family-friendly fun in Taranaki! Endless tracks and trails, glorious gardens, art and cultural offerings, and delicious food awaits in the city of New Plymouth and the surrounding Taranaki region. Check out what’s on offer and plan a family holiday like no other. It’s time to experience Taranaki!

Whether you’re planning to head away over the school holidays or just want to escape on a mini-break, we’ve put together some of our favourite places to stay, eat and play so you can create some lasting memories with your family.

Please note: Venue information was correct at the time of publication. Please check with individual venues for the latest opening dates, times, prices, etc, before making plans.

How to get there

Situated on the western coast of the North Island, Taranaki is easily accessed by air and road. Fly in on Air New Zealand’s domestic service or travel via the historic roads, including NZ’s oldest heritage trail – The Forgotten World Highway SH43. Auckland to New Plymouth is around a 5-hour drive or from Wellington it’s about half an hour less.

Fun family experiences and activities

Taranaki is packed with unique family-friendly experiences, from endless tracks and trails, and glorious gardens, to art and cultural offerings, there’s loads to see and do, with many free activities on offer.

Time to explore

Goblin Forest

Explore nature’s playground on Taranaki Maunga. Kids will be enchanted by the magical Goblin Forest on the Kamahi Loop Track, and delighted with the crystal-clear waters of Wilkies Pools, a series of natural plunge pools sculpted by lava flow over 20,000 years ago. If you’re looking for a family challenge for fit legs, try the 2–3-hour trek to the Pouākai Tarn and grab a family holiday snap of the reflective waters outlining the magnificent Taranaki Maunga.

Egmont National Park has an abundance of tracks and trails, ranging from family-friendly and accessible walks to the challenging Summit track.

For an epic 360-degree bird’s-eye-view of the coastline and New Plymouth, scale Paritutu Rock.

Enjoy an easy 6km walk at Lake Rotokare Scenic Reserve, walk or mountain bike at Lake Mangamahoe or enjoy a riverside picnic and choose from two easy short walks at the Meeting of the Waters Scenic Reserve.

Stroll through one of the many gardens in Taranaki: Tupare near New Plymouth, Pukeiti on the slopes of Taranaki Maunga, King Edward Park in Stratford, or Hollard Gardens near Kaponga where the kids can burn off some energy at the epic playground!

Te Popo Gardens near Stratford is a large, privately-owned garden with woodland, secret gardens, waterfalls, bridges, ponds and hidden treasures to seek out.

Give your legs a workout as you climb the 215 steps up the Hāwera Water Tower for spectacular views over the town and surrounding area.

Taranaki three sisters

Drive out to Tongaporutu and explore the White Cliffs and Three Sisters rock formations.

Explore the Forgotten World Highway and end up at the Republic of Whangamōmona for a bite to eat, or even an overnight stay at Whangamōmona Hotel – venture on further to the Forgotten World Adventures.

Drive the Surf Highway 45 and stop at the Cape Egmont Lighthouse and SS Gairloch shipwreck.

For a different way to travel, hop aboard the Taranaki Heritage Railway from Waitara to Lepperton.

Time to play

Coastal Walkway New Plymouth

Families can get active along the award-winning New Plymouth Coastal Walkway.  Walk, cycle or e-scooter the 13km promenade and take in the Wind Wand, Mothers & Daughters stone sculpture and iconic Te Rewa Rewa Bridge, as well as multiple playgrounds along the path. Or, if you’re in the mood for speed and competition, head to Hillsborough Hideaway and challenge the family to the downhill luge course or Bathurst-themed mini-putt.

Pukekura Park

New Plymouth’s Pukekura Park is wonderful to explore and includes the free, family-focused Brooklands Zoo with an aviary, mini farmyard full of playful animals, plus otters, monkeys and more. There’s a kids’ playground and a picnic area for a great family day out.

At Stoney Oaks Wildlife Park there’s more friendly animals to meet with pigs, rabbits, guinea pigs, goats, and deer to pat and feed. See the Kune Kune pigs, donkeys, miniature horses, white peacocks, llamas and more, and take a fairy bush walk.

Walk in the footsteps of the pioneers of the 1850-1950 era at the Taranaki Pioneer Village. Explore over 40 original buildings and see artifacts of the era. There’s an on-site cafe and animals to feed, plus mountain views, picnic spots, and interactive displays to keep the kids amused. Take the Pioneer Express around the Village and see the craftsmen on every second Sunday of the month.

Travel back in time at the Taranaki Aviation Transport & Technology Museum (TATATM) between New Plymouth and Inglewood. This amazing museum preserves Taranaki’s past for the enjoyment of future generations. It’s fantastic for kids with loads of hands-on experiences like operating a telephone exchange, winding up the fire siren, and transferring money via vacuum!

For something completely different, the iconic Stratford Glockenspiel Clock Tower performs excerpts from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet at 10am, 1pm, 3pm and 7pm daily in both English and Te Reo Māori!

For those with bikes, the Stratford and Bell Block children’s bike and pump tracks are a dream on wheels!

Time for indoor fun


While there is no shortage of sunny days in Taranaki – the sunniest region in New Zealand – sometimes a day indoors is needed. Take the family to Bowlarama for ten-pin bowling, laser tag, arcade games, and an 18-hole black light mini-putt course. Escape Masters is ideal for competitive family-fun, where you search for hidden clues to solve the puzzle to escape. Fun Ho! Toy Museum displays toys from the decades and offers live demonstrations of the toys being made. The whole family will love to see the past revealed through the life-size and scale model displays at Tawhiti Museum, and be enthralled by the underground boat ride at Traders & Whalers.

Puke Ariki Museum

Puke Ariki Museum in New Plymouth is an integrated museum, library, and i-SITE, which also showcases the history of Taranaki through exhibitions and galleries. Free to enter, it also features regular school holiday programmes.

The world-renowned Govett-Brewster Art Gallery is New Zealand’s contemporary art museum and the home to pioneering filmmaker and kinetic sculptor Len Lye’s multi-media art work. Even the building itself is a work of art!

Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre

Family-friendly eateries

Your Taranaki adventures will have you working up an appetite! Discover an exciting selection of delicious food to satisfy even the youngest of palates.

Satisfy those hunger pangs at Marble’s Buffet – a firm family favourite, or head to Deluxe Diner for one of their famous freakazoid milkshakes. Upside Down Eatery has a relaxed ambience that will put families at ease, or for a meal with a view, try Mountain Restaurant, situated inside the Stratford Mountain House, atop Taranaki Maunga. Tempt those tastebuds at more family-friendly eateries below.

Taranaki food

New Plymouth

  • Tea House On The Lake – This beautiful cafe sits beside the main Lake in Pukekura Park. A picturesque spot for fresh-baked goodies or a great coffee while you explore the park.
  • Crowded House – A family-friendly establishment serving hearty meals for hearty appetites for brunch, lunch or dinner (and don’t forget to leave room for dessert!).
  • Liardet Street Projects – Can’t agree on what to have for dinner? This communal courtyard of food trucks and stalls offers a wide range of street food and cheap eats so everyone can pick their own cuisine!
  • Locals Cafe – A ‘locals’ favourite with plenty of space to dine and a cool kids’ corner!
  • Manou’s Waterfront Café & Restaurant – Unique, rustic and fun – great food with a spectacular view! Open for breakfast, lunch and sunset dinners with seafood and daily specials.

Volcanoview (Kaimiro) – If you can take your eyes away from the amazing view, Dutch Pancakes are the speciality at this beautiful restaurant. There’s also a playground with pedal carts and a flying fox!

Someday Cafe (Hāwera) – Reputed to be the best cafe in town and well worth the turn off the main highway for freshly made goodies.

Cafe 487 (Urenui) – The rustic, homely and welcoming surroundings of this cafe makes for a great stop on SH3. There’s plenty of outdoor space for the kids to run around and stretch their legs.

Whangamomona Hotel – Dine at one of NZ’s historic heritage hotels on the Forgotten Highway (SH43). You can even get your passport stamped at this self-declared republic!

Black Sand Pizzeria & Bistro (Oakura) – Wood-fired pizzas with unbeatable ocean views.

Shakee Pear Cafe (Stratford) – Part of the Taranaki Pioneer Village, choose from mouthwatering cabinet food or blackboard specials at this friendly cafe.

Ōpunakē Fish, Chips & More -Fresh fish and homemade chips – enjoy them on-site or at one of the local picnic tables overlooking the beach, bay or lake.

Where to stay

For family-friendly stays, we recommend checking out the accommodation below.

Belt Road Seaside Holiday Park & Motels

Belt Road Seaside Holiday Park & Motels – Quiet and relaxing accommodation with breathtaking sea views, easy access to town’s attractions and the Coast al Walkway at your doorstep. Choose from a variety of motel and self-contained units and studios, cabins, and powered or unpowered sites.

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Fitzroy Beach Holiday Park

Fitzroy Beach Holiday Park – New Plymouth’s only holiday park on the beach with a wide range of accommodation options including sheltered sites, studios and cabins. Direct access to both the Fitzroy Beach surf and the Coastal Walkway. Kids facilities on-site and nearby include a jumping pillow, playground, and summer pool. 

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Stratford Mountain House

Stratford Mountain House – Luxurious accommodation in mountain chalets allowing you to relax and soak up the views of Taranaki Maunga.Enjoy easy walking tracks nearby where you can experience unique alpine flora and fauna.

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The Residence Fitzroy

The Residence Fitzroy – Serviced apartments with full kitchens and separate bedrooms for great value luxury accommodation. Situated in the heart of the Fitzroy village with dining, shopping, and the beach all nearby.

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Tairoa Lodge

Tairoa Lodge – Award-winning, Tairoa Lodge offers boutique accommodation, just two minutes from Hāwera. The 1875 Victorian villa as well as Tairoa Cottage, The Gatehouse and Kingfisher Cottage offer a range of accommodation options among native and exotic trees plus spacious lawns and an outdoor swimming pool.

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Piwakawaka Family Hut

Piwakawaka Family Hut – For something completely different, sleep above the treetops in this hut-style, bunk-bed accommodation, one hour’s walk into the Pukeiti rainforest.

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Discover all there is to see, do, eat, and experience in Taranaki

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Written by Kidspot New Zealand with information provided by Venture Taranaki.

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