Eco-tour­ing in Taranaki

The play­ground of Taranaki holds an ever-grow­ing list of things to see and do for the whole fam­ily – with a green twist.

Element - - Natural Parenting - By James Rus­sell

The wind-swept fields and hedgerows in ru­ral Taranaki look re­mark­ably like the west coasts of The Bri­tish Isles and Ire­land, un­til you turn around and see the moun­tain and its thick na­tive skirt – an iconic Kiwi im­age. Be­cause it re­veals it­self so rarely, each time you glimpse its per­fect, con­i­cal peak it seems to have grown in stature.

It’s the fo­cal point around a bur­geon­ing scene of eco­minded businesses, ser­vice in­dus­tries and in­di­vid­u­als con­gre­gat­ing here, all keen to pre­serve the area as a backto-na­ture Gar­den of Eden.

Of course, there are people who have known the se­cret for years. The movie re­leased last year by lo­cal film maker Clive Nee­son, which fea­tured 45 years of (mainly) lo­cal ad­ven­tures, wasn’t called The Last Par­adise for noth­ing.

Then there’s Michael and Linda Law­ley, whose off-the-grid property bris­tles with enough so­lar pan­els, wind­mills, hy­dro tur­bines and bat­ter­ies to run not only their house­hold, but a large guest lodge and a four-em­ployee busi­ness. They make more of the afore­men­tioned mini hy­dro tur­bines, which are now pow­er­ing prop­er­ties around the globe. Michael also runs Eco In­no­va­tion, a com­pany that gives ad­vice about re­new­able so­lu­tions and sells ev­ery­thing needed to gen­er­ate your own re­new­able en­ergy.

Their property is thick with na­tive trees, free-range chick­ens, veg­etable and berry gar­dens, live­stock, pets and im­pres­sive views, on the right day, of Mt Taranaki. It’s a par­adise for chil­dren too, with ca­noes, a fly­ing fox and bush tracks to ex­plore. Per­fect for those who like their ac­com­mo­da­tion with a gen­er­ous side of fun and ed­u­ca­tion.

“With more surf breaks per kilo­me­tre than any­where south of Hawaii, the Taranaki coast­line is more of a surfer’s par­adise than that epony­mous wannabe across the ditch.”

Of course no eco tour of Taranaki is com­plete with­out an ex­pe­ri­ence in that ex­pan­sive ocean. With more surf breaks per kilo­me­tre than any­where south of Hawaii, the Taranaki coast­line is more of a surfer’s par­adise than that epony­mous wannabe across the ditch.

If you’re ner­vous about it, or have never tried surf­ing, get in touch with Gary Bruck­ner, a Californian-turnedKiwi, who brings his 45 years of play­ing in the waves to the TaraWave Surf School in Oakura, just south of New Ply­mouth on the surf high­way. He can lie on the back of your board while you skim shore­ward – whether you’re five years old or 65. He’s par­tic­u­larly skilled at al­lay­ing the fears of lit­tle chil­dren, who may be in­tim­i­dated by the waves All equip­ment is pro­vided – all you need is your togs. By now you’ll be ready for an­other rest, and the eco­con­scious and/or dis­cern­ing trav­ellers will in­vari­ably find them­selves check­ing into the Ahu Ahu Beach Vil­las, perched on the cliff above the sea just 20 min­utes south­west of New Ply­mouth.

Run by David and Nuala Mar­shall, the beach vil­las are a marvel of what can be built with re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als, fea­tur­ing 15-me­tre hard­wood sal­vaged wharf piles, lo­cal re­tired power poles and 100-year-old French clay tiles and clas­sic na­tive tim­ber lat­tice win­dows saved from the de­mol­ished Strat­ford Hospi­tal. Com­bine that with un­du­lat­ing plas­ter walls, hand-crafted join­ery and Hun­dert­wasser-in­spired bot­tle win­dows, and the re­sult is stun­ning, en­dorsed upon its com­ple­tion with a sus­tain­able ar­chi­tec­ture award. There’s a dou­ble bed in the main down­stairs area, and the kids will be happy in the mez­za­nine floor above, or rov­ing around the ex­pan­sive grounds. There’s even a firepit out front which the guests can’t help but con­gre­gate around.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.