Visit Taranaki and you'll discover an alpine and national park wonderland, rolling green fields, dramatic coastline and enough Maori and colonial history to fill a library.
Each of the region's three districts provides a unique perspective on Taranaki's past, present and future. And Egmont National Park with Mt Taranaki at its heart is a world unto itself.
The Sugar Loaves, off the coast of New Plymouth, are the eroded stumps of a 2000-millennia old volcano crater. With deep canyons, numerous lava-rock caves, and the convergence of warm northern currents and cold southern currents attracting diverse marine life, the Sugar Loaves are also a marine park.
In the east, eleven rivers drain from the steep beef and sheep hill country. Cast your gaze across the fertile plains where over 2,700 dairy farms produce almost 20 percent of New Zealand's total milk solids. To a cow, it's heaven. To a visitor, it's green, lush green.
The major city of New Plymouth ranks consistently as one of New Zealand's sunniest spots. For this reason, Spring can also be a beautiful time for travelling through this region, exploring the art galleries and funky cafes that are found right around Mt Taranaki.
Spring in Taranaki is a time when gardeners rub their hands with glee as the annual Rhododendron Festival approaches. The Festival runs from late October through early November, featuring an astounding 10,000 varieties of Rhododendron growing around Taranaki with more than 70 gardens and parks participating.
Visitors can hop on the "Flower Power" bus or self-drive around the gardens. Guided walks are also scheduled around top gardens such as Pukeiti.
The warm weather starts as early as September, though summer does not officially begin until 1 December. This is the time to explore the many beaches and rivers of the region, or venture onto Mt Taranaki for dips in crystal clear pools and stunning views of the central North Island volcanoes.
With the sun rising before 6.00am and lingering until after 9.00pm in the summer you can pack a lot into a single day. When the day is over, sit back and watch the sun dip majestically into the Tasman Sea.
Autumn in Taranaki offers a great time to interact with the region. In New Plymouth you'll discover a lively art world, with galleries and talent to freshen up your creative views.
Autumn offers an ideal opportunity for hiking in Egmont National Park, which encompasses the mountain and the land around it. Lush rainforest covers the foothills of the mountain, with the landscape changing the higher you go. The forest on Mount Taranaki's middle slopes is affectionately known as Goblin Forest because of the gnarled shape of the trees and the thick swathes of trailing moss.
During winter Mt Taranaki, at the center of the Taranaki region, becomes truly beautiful when covered in snow. An almost perfectly symmetrical cone, the mountain is a great attraction for skiers and trampers alike. Trampers are keen for a winter ascent of the mountain, which at 2518m, is a great one-day climb.
Meanwhile skiers can enjoy Manganui, the mountain's club field. The ski season runs from June to October between the hours of 9am and 4pm. Offering a vertical drop of 420m, the field has a learners' rope tow, a T-bar, and access rope tow and a top tow. The terrain is really for the more advanced skier.
Other facilities on the field include a flying fox for transportation of ski equipment and baggage across the Manganui Gorge, sorry no passengers! There is also a public shelter for daily public use which contains toilets, ticket office and a canteen. The Stratford Mountain Club has just completed a new lodge on the field for members only. There is a Ski Patrol and also a Ski School available throughout the season, contact Peter Quinn, Tel: +64 (0)6 758 7251. Ski Hire is available from the Mountain House Motor Lodge. The Mountain House also has a fully licensed restaurant, hotel and motel accommodation and is located 3km below the ski field.
During winter, the sun rises around 7am and sets around 5.30pm. The average maximum temperature is 12 to 17 degrees Celsius (53 to 65F).
Book Your Trip Today... Here's How
Learn about the different regions of New Zealand from the options above, then to check for airfares, contact the Air New Zealand Reservations team 1-800-247-KIWI(5494) book online, or call your local travel agent.