GRAINS TO GRADIENTS
From sandy surf beaches at dawn to ski slopes by lunchtime, Taranaki people don’t let a little snowfall hold them back in winter
When the winter snow reaches down to the farmland, up on Mt Taranaki’s Manganui Ski-field you’ll find skiers who were up at sunrise that day catching a wave along nearby Surf Highway 45.
If the chance to surf and ski in a morning doesn’t appeal, then sticking to the Surf Highway might. Beyond the famous surf breaks with names like Kumara Patch, Stent Rd, Ahus, Green Meadows, and Graveyards are a variety of cafes in the villages along the way. At Oakura, for instance, Frenchmen Francois Husillos and Pascal Dousimoui serve locally-roasted Ozone coffee and idiosyncratic food, like grandma’s winter pie, a potato- cauliflower-bechamel sauce savoury with Polish ancestry.
Tracing a line between city and sea is New Plymouth’s Coastal Walkway, a ribbon that passes glorious bridges and carefully located cafés along its 13km route, which is enjoyed by legions of walkers, runners, cyclists and skateboarders daily.
Back to the mountain, when the snow melts in spring the renowned Pouakai Crossing comes into its own again. The one- day walk is literally breathtaking, and spans primeval bush, tussock tops, streams and tarns – alpine lakes – reflecting the mountain, rocky ridges, and the unique Ahukawakawa Wetlands.
It’s an eight-hour route starting at the North Egmont Visitor Centre – a 30-minute drive from New Plymouth, meaning you’re only a short drive from the city’s lavish accommodation options, such as the aptly named Nice Hotel.
The Taranaki region was voted # 2 in the world by Lonely Planet. Plan your adventure to the region by visiting noted.co.nz or taranaki.info.
Opposite page: Mount Taranaki. This page, clockwise from top left: Hunting waves off Surf Highway 45; Te Rewa Rewa Bridge on New Plymouth’s Coastal Walkway; The Camphouse backpacker accommodation at the start of the Pouakai Crossing; Coffee at High Tide.