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New Plymouth and Taranaki New Zealand
"One of the world's natural gardens . . . "
Taranaki has the disadvantage that it's stuck out there on the west, off the most obvious track from North to South Island. As a result it doesn't get as many visitors as it otherwise might. Or ought.
But it has special appeal to two groups of people.
Trekking and the outdoors.
Like much of NZ, Taranaki has some great outdoors recreational opportunities. Egmont National Park, created in 1875, covers 24,000 hectares of unspoiled native forest.
In particular the walks in the Dawson's Falls area are an escape back to the environment in its virgin state. Dawson Falls themselves, a 16.5m drop, are only 20minutes from the end of the road.
Very popular is the Around-the-Mountain circuit - 45km and about three to five days walking. Modern DOC huts are spaced at approx one day's walk apart. The track is well constructed and well marked.
In addition there are a whole rage of shorter walks ranging from 15mins to a day.
But Taranaki has another side to its nature - its gardens. With a temperate climate and an even spread of rainfall throughout the year, it is an ideal environment for many colourful shrubs. Indeed, only the fact that it is so far from a natural source of wild species prevented NZ from becoming a profusion of rhododendron and azaleas.
Paramount among the gardens of Taranaki are Pukekura Park, Tupare, Hollard's Garden and the Pukeiti Trust.
On the way to Pukeiti, along Carrington Rd, stop for a look at Hurworth, the simple pioneer home of four-time Premier Sir Harry Atkinson. It's not he that makes this place worth the stop, but rather the insight into colonial life. The timber was pit sawn by Atkinson himself - thus it is not the mansion of a landowner-statesman, but rather the simple cottage of an intelligent pioneer, not ashamed to earn a living at the bottom of a saw pit.
Other Places Of Interest
Fancy a drop of traditional English mild ale? Visit Mike's Organic Brewery, a working brewery, and sample Mike's mild ale, a hand-crafted English mild ale style produced by traditional methods.
Tawhiti Museum, in Hawera, is one of the better regional museums and is probably the best privately owned museum in the country. Won a lot of Tourism awards anyway.
While you're in Hawera get an inside look at New Zealand's biggest export, dairy products, at one of the main plants of New Zealand's biggest company, Fonterra. This is the dairy company that processes about 90% of the country's milk production, marketing it to just about every country on the planet. And this is the biggest milk processing plant in the world. The interactive display at Dairyland Visitor Centre backgrounds its products, technology and markets
The Wind Wand on the foreshore in New Plymouth. The sculpture is based on a design created by international recognised artist Len Lye in the 1960's. He attemped to build a Wind Wand in both New York and Vancouver but only today's technology has enabled his dream to become reality.
Taranaki is the county's major energy producing province with major gas and oil fields on and offshore. It has one of the world's historic oil well sites - at Ngamotu Beach in New Plymouth there's an original beam pump that stands on the site of an 1866 oil strike - the world's second ever commercial oil find.
A New Zealand Travel Guide is written by David Morris and published by
Hillsborough Rd, Hillsborough, Auckland 1042, New Zealand.
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12 March 2012