TARANAKI IM­PRESSES

Taranaki has im­pressed travel bi­ble Lonely Planet, which named it one of the world's best re­gions to visit in 2017. So, what are you wait­ing for? Come and see what all the fuss is about.

New Zealand Golf Magazine - - CONTENTS - WORDS BY KIM BOW­DEN

We play away with Avis and find out for our­selves why Taranaki has im­pressed travel bi­ble ‘Lonely Planet'.

Agood place to start is New Ply­mouth's “de­li­ciously off­beat new gallery” - The Len Lye Cen­tre, home to works by the pi­o­neer­ing ki­netic sculp­tor and film maker. The build­ing's curved fa­cade is made of highly-pol­ished stain­less steel and con­crete and is a work of art in it­self. A five-minute walk away, don't miss Lye's kooky 45-metre Wind Wand, set against the wild back­drop of the Tas­man Sea. A thin tube of fi­bre­glass soars into the air, de­signed to arc and sway in the el­e­ments. At its peak, a red ball glows with 1,296 lights.

Stretch your legs with a stroll or cy­cle along the New Ply­mouth Coastal Walk­way, a 12.7-kilo­me­tre-long prom­e­nade that hugs the coast­line for the length of the city. There's selfie-in­duc­ing views of the mighty Tas­man to en­joy, as well as public art­works dot­ted along the way. A high­light – the iconic and award-win­ning Te Rewa Rewa Bridge that spans the Wai­whakaiho River.

Pack walk­ing shoes as well as golf clubs, and tackle the Pouakai Cross­ing. Lauded as one of the coun­try's finest day walks, the route winds its way around the per­fect vol­canic cone of Mt Taranaki. Tra­verse oth­er­worldly land­scapes, where lava col­umns tower and streams run red, and spy the mir­ror re­flec­tion of Mt Taranaki in moun­tain tarns. At the day's end, re­cu­per­ate with an in­dul­gent soak at the Taranaki Ther­mal Spa, where ther­a­peu­tic wa­ters spring from one-kilo­me­tre un­der­ground.

Ex­plore end­less black sand beaches and epic surf breaks on Taranaki's Surf High­way 45, the coast road from New Ply­mouth to Haw­era. Stop for a cof­fee and cake fix at Kin and Co Fine Foods in Oakura, where the world's big­gest surf­board stands out­side But­ler's Reef Ho­tel, then get creative with a jew­ellery work­shop at Ringcraft Moana. At Pun­garehu, take a de­tour to the Cape Eg­mont Light­house, which started shin­ing its light in 1881 in the face of staunch non-vi­o­lent protest from those liv­ing at nearby Par­i­haka Pa. Grab a feed of fresh fish and hand­made

Drive through un­tamed nat­u­ral scenery on the For­got­ten World High­way that runs be­tween Strat­ford and Tau­marunui. The 155-kilo­me­tre road fol­lows an­cient Maori trade routes and pi­o­neer­ing farm tracks, with spec­tac­u­lar views of Mount Taranaki to the west and the cen­tral North Is­land peaks of Ruapehu, Ngau­ruhoe and Ton­gariro to the east.

chips at Opunake Fish, Chips & More, and dine al­fresco with a view of the rolling surf.

Drive through un­tamed nat­u­ral scenery on the For­got­ten World High­way that runs be­tween Strat­ford and Tau­marunui. The 155-kilo­me­tre road fol­lows an­cient Maori trade routes and pi­o­neer­ing farm tracks, with spec­tac­u­lar views of Mount Taranaki to the west and the cen­tral North Is­land peaks of Ruapehu, Ngau­ruhoe and Ton­gariro to the east. Break the jour­ney at the en­ter­tain­ing Whang­amomona Ho­tel, where lively lo­cals de­clared their in­de­pen­dence in 1988 af­ter find­ing them­selves on the wrong side of a coun­cil de­ci­sion. In Jan­uary, they cel­e­brated 29 years of the re­pub­lic with sheep races, gum­boot throw­ing, pos­sum skin­ning, and hold ups and shoot outs on the main drag, be­fore elect­ing a new pres­i­dent.

Back in the big smoke, wind down with din­ner at So­cial Kitchen, a lo­cal favourite si­t­u­ated in the for­mer Sal­va­tion Army Citadel. There's slow­cooked pork belly, sourced down the road at Ruby­fields free range farm, or an­gus steaks cooked in a char­coal oven and served up with chimichurri.

Fam­ily en­joy­ing the sun­set on Fitzroy Beach New Ply­mouth. Credit Rob Tucker

TSB Bank Fes­ti­val of Lights - water­fall in Pukekura Park. Credit Rob Tucker

Big surf off the coast of New Ply­mouth. Credit Rob Tucker

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