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Things to do in Ohakune

Great outdoor activities around Ohakune, Central Plateau Region, NZ

There are many things to do for individual travellers and families travelling through Ohakune, New Zealand, such as skiing in winter, mountain biking, canoeing/kayaking, hiking and climbing.  Ohakune is a great place to play and explore both in summer and winter. In winter hitting the slopes of Mt Ruapehu is necessary, however, there is still lots of thing to do in Ohakune that does not involve skiing.

Skiing

Ohakune sits at the base of Mt Ruapehu and in winter is the closest town to the Turoa Ski Resort. It’s a happening little town in winter as people flock to try out the great back country bowls and even hike to the summit to ski down the whole mountain. For children the ski area is well set up with magic carpets and gentle slopes and childcare available on site if the children become tired!

If you want to go skiing you can find places to hire skis here.  On good days the town is heaving so don’t miss out! Catch the bus from Ohakune township or drive up and park in one of the top car parks.

Biking

Biking over the viaduct as part of the Ohakune Old Coach Road trail, amazing!

As well as skiing Ohakune offers individuals and families great options in bike paths and trails around the town. For the avid adventurers Ohakune is a great location to start the Bridge to Nowhere Bike trail (fitness and MTB experience a must). For travellers and families that want to see the New Zealand country side, history and have some fun then the Ohakune Old Coach Road is a definite must. If you have little children with you then the local pump track for little bikers is great and lots of family fun or hire kids bikes and take the family along for an adventure!

Hiking

If you are not keen on the skiing in winter or biking, which can be done all year round, then tie up your hiking boots and head out on some great walks around the National Park with the spectacular Mt Ruapehu in the background! The Mangawhero Forest Walk begins by crossing the Mangawhero River from which it gains its name. Running over a bed of red tinged rocks, this river starts high up Mount Ruapehu and descends over two giant waterfalls, carving its way through the debris of previous eruptions. It’s an hours walk and well worth the effort!

Canoe and Kayaking

1-5 day Wanganui river canoe trips with Yeti Tours

While in Ohakune and so close don’t forget to head to Yeti Tours and book a day or two on the Whanganui River. Freedom hire your own canoe or join a guided tour which takes you down the Whanganui River into the heart of New Zealand back country. If you overnight on the two nights or more day trips then you experience kiwi camping or Department of Conservation Huts and explore the great kiwi outdoors!

Climbing

For the travellers who want to stay closer to the Ohakune township then head into the climbing wall at Vertical Climbing. This is a purpose built climbing wall for all ages and is great on both summer and winter days!

Have fun in Ohakune and make sure that you take your picture with the giant carrot!!

 

 

Top Things To Do

Family Things to do in Turangi

Things to do in Turangi

Family Things to do in Turangi, Great Lake Taupo, New Zealand

Family things to do in Turangi are plentiful in both summer and winter.Things to do in Turangi and the areas close by include climbing walls, white water rafting, hikes, trout fishing, mini putt, hot pools and biking. Only 45 minutes away from Turangi is the Whakapapa ski field which is great for families in winter and a fun trip sightseeing to the Knoll Ridge Café in summer. If your family is a little older you might also like to complete the Tongariro Crossing (recommended for children aged 14 +).

 

White Water Rafting

Great fun white water rafting down the Tongariro River in both summer and winter.

Running beside Turangi is the Tongariro River, famous for its trout fishing and white water rafting! Head to the Tongariro River Rafting Company. With many years of experience they can take you down anything from grade 2 to grade 4 rapids. The family grade 2 is great for children aged 3 years and older and a real family adventure! The grade 3 is more suited to older children aged 10 years and over.

Trout Fishing & Viewing

Taking your children trout fishing is another experience that you can easily organise and take part in while visiting Turangi! There are some local guides who can help you out or just take your children to go and watch the local fisherman, you can find them all along the Tongaririo River Trail Walk/Cycle Way. Only 5 minutes out of Turangi Township heading South is the Tongariro National Trout Centre where you and your family can get up close and personal with the trout that are released into the Tongariro River. Feeding the trout is a highlight and the information about the breeding scheme is interesting and informative.

Mountain Biking

Family Biking the Tongariro River Trail, an easy grade 2 loop track.

Mountain biking the Tongariro River Trail is great fun and so easy to access from the centre of town where you hire bikes from. This is a mellow grade 2 trail which is wide and well surfaced. It starts from the Turangi township as the river exits into Lake Taupo on the Northern end of town. Follow along the beautiful clear waters of the Tongariro river, stopping to spot trout along the way. Pedal away from Turangi along the river until you’ve had enough then turn around or do the loop ride which is approximately 15km long and suitable for the whole family. If you would like a guided tour of this track from a local guide then you and your family can learn about the history of this great River and its surroundings!

Pukawa, Kuratau & Tokonou

Continuing to explore the surrounding hot spots in Turangi check out Pukawa and Kuratau in the summer. These two little Bays, only 15 minutes West of Turangi are amazing for some summer swimming and a must when looking for family things to do! Heading to or from these bays make sure to stop at the Tokonou Thermal Hot Pools. These are great value for the family and don’t miss the little thermal walk next to the hot pools which has boiling mud and steaming mud!

Mini Putt

Heading back into the middle of Turangi there is a great mini putt course that is always popular with both families and couples! The layout is great and easily accessible from anywhere in town. From here you can also walk or drive 2 minutes to the climbing wall Vertical Assault Turangi. This is a fantastic family activity as they have walls for both the timid and adventurous children and adults!

Hikes

Heading back out into nature one the the family things to do in Turangi is to take the kids and check out heaps of the great hikes/walks that are around the area. From the Tongariro River Trail to the Pukawa Bays Walks there is a walk for every level and interest from scenic to historic! Spot the predator traps that are out and about. These traps are set to catch the pests that attack the New Zealand native kiwi. Spot the endangered blue duck only found in New Zealand.

The only problem with Turangi for family things to do is the choice! You need to stay for at least a few days to see and experience everything that makes this little town tick!

Recommendations

Places to Stay:

Tongariro Lodge

Tongariro River Motel

Places to Eat:

Lakeland House Restaurant

Tongariro Lodge

Top Things To Do

Tips from a local how to enjoy a holiday in Taupo

2 kayakers in single kayaks on Lake Taupo

If you’re travelling around NZ then you must visit the beautiful Lake Taupo!  There are so many great things to do like kayaking, biking and paddleboarding.    Everyone will find something to enjoy, it’s great for families and thrill seekers. 

In this article we want to let you know that there are still hidden ways to enjoy Lake Taupo and the surrounding areas.   There are many options for accommodation in Taupo town so instead we recommend some not so common places a bit outside.   There are also lovely places to have a locally produced meal (although we didn’t say they would be cheap!).

Things to do in Taupo:

See all activities in Taupo

 Get up close and personal with the Maori carvings by kayaking to view them

Get a real sense of adventure as you kayak out to explore the Maori carvings, a 2 hour paddle from Taupo Marina, or shorter from Acacia Bay. If you are a little unsure of your fitness level then we would recommend you join a tour.

Find and book a Maori Carving kayak tour

Head out on a bike and explore the Western Bays on the Great Lake Taupo Trail

There are 3 sections of the Great Lake Trail which have you biking (or walking if you prefer) past volcanic formations, through native bush over streams and giving you some of the most spectacular views of Lake Taupo and the distant mountains. The second section of the trail from Kawakawa Bay – Kinloch is the shortest at 19.5km, however, why not make an adventure of it and do a two day self guided bike tour starting in Waihaha and finishing in Kinloch.

Swim in the warm thermally heated waters of the Waikato River

Join a tour that will kayak you down the mighty Waikato River, past the bungy jumping and let you out for a soak at the lovely naturally heated hot pools where people will wonder where you came from pulling up in your kayak!

Book a Waikato River Kayak Trip

Make your way to Huka Falls by biking along the Huka Falls Loop Track

This well maintained grade 2 shared use path (cycle, walking, running, dogs, children) is a fantastic way to explore the river, scenery and various look out points between the Huka Falls and the spectacular Aratiatia Rapids. Time your ride right to view the Aratiatia Dam release its water every day at 10:00, midday and 14:00 (also at 16:00 in the summer months). See native plants, rock formations and spot the New Zealand native birds! If you do this in the early morning then you will not have the crowds that can gather during the day!

Hire a Bike in Taupo

Spend time on the Water and learn to Stand up Paddle Board

Learn a new sport on one of the most beautiful Lakes in the World! This sport is easy, relaxing and is a great way to explore the Lake foreshore from on the water versus looking out at it! Head to Lake Fun Taupo or Canoe and Kayak Taupo (they have inflatable SUP that you can take where you like on the foreshore to explore).

Hire a SUP

Search for Trout and get spectacular views biking along the Tongariro River Trail

The Tongariro River Trail starts in Turangi and is an easy ride, although what makes it easy is stopping to take in the views along the river! Watch the locals out fishing and even be inspired to book your own fishing expedition! This is a beautiful ride that can take as long or as fast as you like, I suggest packing a picnic and making a day of it! 

See all activities in Taupo

Where to stay in Taupo:

Instead of basing yourself in Taupo check out the surrounding Bays close to Taupo.  They provide you with a touch of everyday Kiwi life. Acacia Bay and Two Mile Bay are close to Taupo, with Two Mile Bay just a bike along the Lake foreshore! If you have your own hire car then head to Kinloch, a little village in a beautiful part of the Lake, yet within 15 minutes of Taupo.

Check out the site https://www.bookabach.co.nz to further your experience of how kiwis live while on holiday, a bach is a holiday home!

If you have an extra few days then heading to the opposite end of Lake to Taupo is a great way to check out the local holiday hideouts! There are plenty of accommodation options for all budgets in Turangi.  If you are looking for a kiwi experience try https://www.bookabach.co.nz again for the Bays Pukawa, Omori and Kuratua, 15 minutes out of Turangi, they are spectacular!

If you are a keen trout fisherman then the Tongariro Lodge is situated right along the River and provides some beautiful accommodation in the region!

 

Where to Eat in Taupo:

If you staying in Acacia Bay then there is a well know café to both locals and international tourists which is definitely worth a visit called L’Arte Café. They have a range of New Zealand gifts and art work available as well as local produce used in their cooking.

For a special dinner head to The Kinloch Club for a top quality meal produced from locally sourced produce. Over looking Lake Taupo this is a truly special experience!

For a bit of Local fun and entertainment, if you are around on a Sunday night, then head to the 2 Mile Bay Café, where there is usually a live band and pizza available right on the lake front!

Finally, try out the Tongariro Lodge, a lakeside lodge and restaurant near Turangi:  http://www.tongarirolodge.co.nz/

 

Summary: 

 

Top Things To Do

10 Must Do North Island Summer Activities

Summer icecream

Enjoy the summer with these must do North Island Summer Activities

This is a special post by a guest writer, Nicola Bones-Smallwood, an intrepid world traveller and a vocal supporter of New Zealand.  Nicola spends as much time as she can outdoors, this is her 10 Must Do North Island summer activities.

With summer just around the corner, it’s time to dust off the togs, slap on some sunscreen and start planning those outdoor North Island summer activities. We’ve got you covered with our top ten must-do’s for the North Island.

Waitangi Mountain Bike Park

Starting in the North, check out the newly opened Waitangi Mountain Bike Park for loads of adrenaline and smooth flowing trails. Suitable for Grade 2 riders upwards, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. This community-built project is sure to stoke the whole family. Just a 5-minute drive from the Paihia township, set yourself up for a few days to enjoy the stunning Bay of Islands. 

 Wellington

Learn more about Aotearoa’s capital city, Wellington on a self guided bike tour stopping at city spots, beaches and even go for a dip if you’ve worked up a sweat. This is a great one for locals too!

Explore New Zealand’s Capital city by bike

Tawharanui

Always wanted to try surfing? We recommend heading to Tawharanui for a taste of white sand beaches, chilled out East Coast swell and that feeling the first time you stand on a wave! O’Neill Surf Academy is weekend only so perfect to time with a stop in at the Matakana Markets.

Waiheke Island

If you’re hanging out in the big smoke these holidays, Auckland still has loads of outdoor adventures to find. One of our firm favourites, is exploring Waiheke Island by bike. Only a short ferry ride away and you feel transported to a remote island that has low key vibes and produces some amazing wines. Insiders tip: buy a bottle of your fav vino and head to Dragonfired, a great little takeaway pizza spot on the beach!

Whitianga

Stand up paddle boarding has really grown in popularity and it’s easy to see why. It’s a great way to explore untouched coastlines and get up close to wildlife. There’s no better place than the sunny, tranquil waters of Whitianga. The team at Whiti Water Sports will host you like family. Enjoy!

New Plymouth

Looking for a family friendly bike option? Cruise the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway on bikes with the whole family, stopping for ice-creams, to build sandcastles and take in the stunning views.

New Plymouth Coastal Walkway Te Rewa Rewa Bridge

Lake Rotoiti

Hot pools only accessible by boat sounds like something out of a movie. But these gems are located on Lake Rotoiti and River Rats Rafting and Kayaking has the means to get there you. Take a guided tour or hire your own kayak and soon you’ll be enjoying a natural soak on the other side. You can thank us later for this one! 

Lake Taupo

Travellers have probably heard of this one but it’s about time us kiwis experienced it too join Canoe and Kayak Taupo for their Maori Carvings tour. Enjoy a dose of culture whilst paddling on the tranquil waters of Lake Taupo.

Wanganui River

So this one may take a little more planning but if you haven’t yet canoed the Wanganui River, this is your summer. Taumarunui Canoe Hire can help you plan your trip, give you a gear list and can tailor 1 to 5 days. This is definitely a NZ must-do!

Paddle along some of the most beautiful parts of the Wanganui River.

Hawkes Bay

Food, wine and architecture? Yes please! Head to Hawke’s Bay and be pleasantly delighted as you explore the region by bike. The team at Cycle Nation will point you in the right direction from wine tours to art deco or Te Mata Peak for some downhill action. Insiders tip: check out the oldest farmers market in the country on Sunday morning for local treats galore!

Mountain Biking Top Things To Do

Top 10 New Zealand Family Friendly Bike Rides 

Family friendly bike rides around New Zealand can take your family holiday from great to brilliant! Family friendly bike rides for children that are scenic, fun and exciting for the whole family mean that the entire family has fun riding their bikes, not just mum and dad! From Northland to Otago there are family friendly bike rides to suit all types of families:

1.The New Plymouth Coastal Walkway, Taranaki, New Zealand.

This ride is completely on a purpose built biking and walking track that takes you along the New Plymouth Foreshore and is one of the great family friendly bike rides. This is a great bike ride for families with young children right through to teenagers and can be as long or short as you like. Th bike park in Bell Block allows your little ones the chance to practice their skills at stop signs and road crossings!

Hire a bike

2. Whakarewarewa Forest, Rotorua, New Zealand.

There are some great family friendly bike rides in the Redwoods just outside iconic Rotorua. Take in the massive Redwoods and keep mum and dad happy with the off road yet safe riding terrain. This is a great family bike ride for families with children aged from 4 years and older. 

Hire a bike

3. Hauraki Rail Trail, Hauraki, Waikato, New Zealand.

Spectacular and gentle ride through hills, tunnel, gorge, farmland, bush and wetlands.   The section Waihi to Paeroa (24km) is a spectacular part of the Hauraki Rail Trail.  The trail follows a retired rail network which incorporates a 1 km tunnel, train stations, retired gold mines, water falls, bridges and native bush.  There’s even an icecream stop along the way.  This trail is a must do.

Hire a bike

4. Huka Falls to Aratiti Dam Loop Track, Taupo, New Zealand.

The track out of Huka Falls is not ideal for very young children, however, if you get up the hills then the rest of the ride is relatively flat. This is a great family bike ride for children aged 7 years and over. If you time it right the Dam is opened 3 times daily so you can see the release of the water! On the way back to Huka Falls keep your eyes out for the steaming stream which you can bike alongside!

Hire a bike

5. Tongariro River Trail, Turangi, New Zealand.

The Tongariro River is know for Trout Fishing in New Zealand and alongside of the river runs a beautiful well maintained bike trail that loops around via a swing bridge. This ride is great for young children if you stay on the Turangi side of town and ride up and back down on the trail. For older children cross over on one of the two swing bridges and explore the beautiful landscapes and views from the other side of the river. There is a very steep drop on the non town side of the river, hence we recommend that small children stick to the town side of the track. This is a perfect family bike ride which goes along the river and through native bush.

Hire a bike

6. Raglan Inlet Track, Raglan, New Zealand.

After a family surf lesson at the famous Raglan beach you can all head out for the afternoon on the Raglan Inlet Bike track. Its great for the whole family. This is an easy 10km loop track that will please the whole family with views of the ocean you just learnt to surf in!

Hire a bike

7. Hastings Wineries Cycle Trail Loop, Hastings, New Zealand.

Clip on the children or put them on their own bike  and head out to explore the 11 wineries around the Hastings township. This is a great easy bike ride for children with plenty of stops for mum and dad to do some sampling of local New Zealand wines. Mostly on specially developed cycle paths means this ride is safe for the younger members of the family to bike along.

Hire a bike

8. Oriental Bay Cycle Path, Wellington.

If your family is more comfortable in the city then head out along the Oriental Parade cycle path (shared with walkers) to get a taste of Kiwi city life. Watch your children near the road however!

Hire a bike

9. Twizel River Trail, Twizel, New Zealand.

This is a mostly flat grade 2 family friendly trail with a few gentle climbs. It is more suitable for children aged 7 years plus, depending on their biking experience and fitness. Jump off and head to a local swimming hole along your ride to enjoy a family swim in New Zealands’ clear water!

Hire a bike

10. Kidnappers Coast Ride, Havelock North, North Island, New Zealand.

A family friendly 15-18 km bike ride which also includes some adult wine tasting along the way.

 
 
Mountain Biking Top Things To Do

Looking for things to do in the School Holidays in the North Island?

Having Fun, Being Outside, Learning about New Zealand, Being connected with the environment, Quality Family Time –  This is my wish list for the coming School holidays for my husband and I and our three children aged 4, 6 and 8. We started looking for things to do in the school holidays in the North Island and this is what we found and tried!

Our top picks for things to do in the school holidays are:

Ruapehu skiing  

Especially if its the winter holidays, or even spring holidays! Head up for a spot of skiing at Turoa or Whakapapa. Whakapapa have upgraded Happy Valley, the magic carpets are great fun! 

Rotorua biking

A family bike ride at the Whakarewarewa Forest Mountain Bike Park, Rotorua, is definitely a repeat activity on our things to do in the school holidays list.  Let your children experience the wonder of the Red Wood Forest. Spend some fun time with the family! It’s possible to rent bikes for 4 years old upwards.  Find bikes to hire in Rotorua .

Coromandel biking  

Bike through a tunnel! How cool is that? The 1km Karangahake Gorge rail tunnel is part of the Hauraki Rail Trail from Paeroa to Waihi (section is 24km) and is an easy grade 1 bike ride.  Parents get to see some old historical gold mines of New Zealand sharing the adventure with the children.  Find bikes to hire near the trail.

Whanganui River canoeing

For the older children head out on an adventure along the Whanganui River in a canoe and camp out in some huts. From anywhere from 1 day to 5 day tours this is a family experience not to be missed! Most operators drop you off around Taumaranui.  Everything is organised for you and all you need to do is bring your sleeping gear, warm clothes, some food and away you go.  Find businesses near Whanganui River. 

Turangi biking

Things to do in the school holidays North Island isn’t complete without heading out on a biking adventure along Tongariro River. Head over the swing bridge and stop for trout spotting along the way. Start in Turangi and bike along the river to the swing bridge.Bring food and stop near the swing bridge for a picnic.   For the younger children it is best to head back along the river into Turangi but for older children they should be able to carry on and finish the loop track (took us 3 hours with our 4 year old).  Find bikes to hire in Turangi .

Surfing lesson in Oakura

If the weather is nice and its not to cold head out to Oakura. Let your kids have a go at learning to surf, how cool is that! Make sure you pre book as not to miss out and to find out the best time of day to learn! Book a lesson here

Learn to surf this holidays with your kids!

Taupo kayaking

Teach your children to kayak on the beautiful Lake Taupo. There are two spots to hire from: in the town centre next to the marina or in the beautiful Acacia Bay a 10 minute drive from the city centre. You can also add some cultural experience and kayak around to the Maori Carvings.  A number of businesses offer guided tours.  Find kayaks to hire in Taupo.

 

Raglan biking

Another good way to enjoy Raglan (if its to cold for the sea) is to hire a bike and ride the awesome 10km easy Raglan Inlet Bike Track. Spend a few hours or all day exploring the bush and spotting the sea views along the way!  Finish off with icecreams in town.  Find bikes to hire in Raglan.

Lake Karapiro (Waikato) kayaking

Practice those kayaking skills  and head to Lake Karapiro. For those of you with children 8 years or older consider heading out on the Kayak Glow Worm Tour. Spot some glow worms for yourself! This is a great evening activity for the family but make sure you dress warmly!   Find kayaks to hire at Lake Karapiro

Rotorua kayaking

Kayaking again but this time its well worth it and only accessible by water! Experience the spectacular Manupirua Springs Hot Pools on Lake Rotoiti. Join a tour which includes transport of the kayaks to the lake and have an adventure with the family. Exploring this amazing spot only accessible by water (no cars!) is a must on your things to do in the school holidays list.  Find Lake Rotoiti kayak trips.

 

We hope that we have given you some inspiration on things to do in the school holidays and .  Happy holiday families!

 


 

Good to know:

Find Ruapehu Skis, at TCB:  link

Find bikes for Whakarewarewa Forest, Rotoroa: link .

Find bikes for Karangahake Gorge rail tunnel (Hauraki Rail trail): link

Find trips for canoeing the Whanganui River:  link

Find bikes in Turangi:  link .

Find surfing for lessons, in Oakura:  link

Find kayaks for hire and Maori Carving Trips on Lake Taupo: link

Find bikes for cycling the Raglan Inlet Track: link .

Find trips to the glow worms in the Waikato, with Lake District Adventures: link

Find trips to the Manupirua Springs Hot Pools on Lake Rotoiiti, with RiverRats River Rafting: link.

 

Itinerary Mountain Biking Top Things To Do

Experience an awesome outdoors weekend in Taranaki

Taranaki is a gem in the rough.  It’s got everything anyone could want – mountains, beaches, rivers and the cosmopolitan city of New Plymouth.  However,  it’s a “long” 5 hour drive from Auckland and Wellington which is enough to put off most visitors except the adventurous or well informed.  That could change though, having just been named the Lonely Planet “2nd best region to visit in 2017” and the arrival of JetStar flights from Auckland driving prices down to around $35 each direction.

For those that have made it to Taranaki, we frequently hear acclaims like “It was my favourite part of my New Zealand trip”.  Here is our top things to do in Taranaki with friends for a weekend, come and visit to see if you agree!

 

Arriving in Taranaki by road from the Auckland/Hamilton direction – a view along the coastline towards Mount Taranaki (visible in the distance).

Arrive on Friday:

Base yourself in New Plymouth, a great cosmopolitan town situated right on the coast under the gaze of Mount Taranaki.  Stay at King and Queen hotel and experience great service by Daniel and his team.  They have exceptionally comfortable rooms and you can leave your car and wander to all the best places in town nearby, also known as the WestEnd precinct.

Start off Friday night at Ms White with pizza and beer.  You’re likely to see us there most weekends so make sure you say hi!

King and Queen Hotel, New Plymouth

Ms White – Woodfired pizza and Craft Beer

Saturday:

New Plymouth walkway

Kick off Saturday morning with a coffee and breakfast from Ozone or Monica’s, then grab a bike for a peaceful cruise along the waterfront walkway, a 12km dedicated concrete cycle/walkway extending from the Port to Bell Block.  It hugs the coast, running past beaches and several rivers and it also passes through sand dunes.  Rent a bike from Mitchell Cycles, a family orientated shop which also caters for competitive riders. It’s run by Blair, a busy man frequently training for IronMan races, who has previously represented New Zealand in the Commonwealth Games.  Mitchell’s is nearby the walkway, however if you’ve been staying central you’ll probably want to drive there to collect your bike.

If you come with kids, there are several awesome playgrounds along the way, particularly the one beside the Todd Aquatic centre towards the Port end of the walkway.

Cruising along the waterfront cycle/walkway

Waiwakaiho Bridge at the Bell Block end of the cycle/walkway

Fitzroy beach on a summer day

Fitzroy Beach surfers viewed from the walkway, a great vantage point

Playground beside Todd Aquatic Centre

It’s misleading to only show images of blue skies.  However even if the weather is wet it can be fun riding along the walkway!

For more beautiful bike rides head along the the Te Henui trail, a gentle off road trail which follows the Te Henui  river for 3 km.  You can link up and visit Pukekura Park, voted best park in NZ, frequently bringing big acts like U2 to a natural amphitheatre located amongst the trees.  Even better, time your visit for the Festival of Lights which goes from February through to March or the Womad music festival in March.

Grab some lunch on the way at Paris Plage, open in the summer from November to April (with bands often playing on a Sunday afternoon).  Or grab a coffee from the Beach Shack beside the Fitzroy Surf Club, also a great spot for watching the surfers right out front.

Paris Plage, Nobs Line, bottom of Te Henui river

Surf’s up:

After warming up it’s time to cool off by surfing with Vertigo at Oakura, just 15 minutes drive from New Plymouth.  The beach has a reliable break for all tides, although Jono will check a day or two in advance with you to confirm time of a lesson and ensure you get the best surf conditions for your skill level.  Jono’s got some world class instructors who can help beginners to stand up or the more experienced to improve their skills.  You can also go it alone and simply rent a board from his large quiver of beginner to advanced boards.

If you’re an experienced surfer you’re probably going to want to stay for several days and cruise with a board around the Surf Highway 45.  Given the shape of the coast and orientation of the beaches that line it, you don’t have to go further than an hour drive to find a beach with an awesome break for the swell conditions.  Jono will help you here, as well as directions to good beaches as some of the locals are known to remove street signs to prevent larger numbers out in the line up!

Oakura Beach

Not into surfing?  Then try kayaking or stand up paddle boarding at Ngamotu Beach, within the sheltered confines of the Port breakers.  If you’re feeling confident, paddle your kayak out to the Sugar Loaf Islands for sighting beautiful sea life such as seals.  Canoe and Kayak Taranaki have a wide range of equipment to hire.  For families, you’ll find the double kayaks safe and fun (for children 5 years and older).  They’re just up the road from the beach and will drop the gear down to the beach whenever you need.  They even rent trailers if you want to take kayaks further afield to the Waitara or Mokau River for longer journeys.  Are you into fishing?  Then try out the fishing kayak with attached fish finder, just bring your fishing gear.

Sugar Loaf island tour, viewing seals

Sunsets:

The West Coast has amazing sunsets so to position yourself for it, here are a few favourites:

  • Oakura has a great new wood fired pizza spot right on the beach front, run by Italians. It’s great for good and bad weather.
  • Holy Guacamole serving up delicious Burritos on a grassy reserve beside the beach.  Enjoy them on the bean bags they’ve put out.
  • Okurukuru vineyard is a perfect stop for a glass of wine or delicious dinner.
  • Fish and Chips – a kiwi classic. Catch and Co on Ocean View Parade serve fresh fish off the boats arriving just metres away in Port Taranaki.  Buy some and take it around the corner to Ngamotu beach and watch the sunset.

 

Okurukuru Vineyard and restaurant

Classic West Coast sunset

Sunday:

Start off with breakfast at Monica’s or Local’s (some of the only spots open on a Sunday).  You might also want to stroll around the Farmer’s Market to grab some fresh produce, delicious artisan bread or treats, on Currie St.

Get down Mount Taranaki:

Take a morning bike ride and explore Mount Taranaki.  Although Mount Taranaki is 2518m high you don’t need to cycle up.  In fact Back2TheWild and Eastern Taranaki Experience both offer the luxury of shuttles with bikes up to Dawson Falls for you to walk around and explore before taking your bike and cruising back downhill.  There are other side trips you can also take, for example a venture out to Whangamomona on the Forgotten Highway or to Lake Rotokare.  There are many options for trips arranging shuttle transport one way and a cycle back. Stratford (45 minutes drive from New Plymouth) is a good starting point for it.

Bike the Forgotten Highway. Image from: Back2TheWild

 

Biking down Mount Taranaki, from Dawsons Falls.  Image from:  Back2TheWild

After a delicious lunch somewhere like Federal Delicatessan or Public you’ll probably have to get ready for the airport.  If you booked flights to maximise your stay in Taradise, head for a walk to explore Pukekura Park (1-2 hours) or Lake Mangamahoe (1.5 hours).

Or go back to Paris Plage and chill out in the sunshine with a band on Sunday afternoons, cold beer and wood fired pizza.  Awesome!

Have you got more time?

There are so many more things to do and longer trips available:

Exploring Waitara River

Mountain biking at the  Lake Maungamahoe mountain bike park (Mount Taranaki in the background)

Go on, give Taranaki and go for a weekend and you’ll leaving with dreams to move here.  I did!

Cheers, James

 


 

Good to know: 

Bookings are essential, it gets busy in weekends and trips and lessons need to be arranged prior.  Leap makes it really easy and fast to book in advance online.  Follow the links below to start planning and booking.

View all things to do and compare all businesses – link to Leap – Taranaki

Equipment, shuttles, lessons and trips:

 

Stay:   King and Queen hotel

 

Eat:

  • Monica’s – Breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Ozone – Coffee, Beanery and light food
  • Federal delicatessen – Brunch and lunch
  • Public Catering – Lunch
  • Catch and Co – Fish and Chips
  • Ms White – Pizza and craft beer
  • Okurukuru Vineyard and restaurant – Vineyard and Restaurant
  • Paris Plage – Coffee, French treats, Lunch, Pizza, Beer, Icecreams
  • Pekaren, Oakura – Wood fired pizza
  • High Tide, Oakura – Cafe
  • Holy Guacamole – Oakura

Fly:

  • AirNZ multiple times daily to Auckland, Wellington, New Plymouth
  • Jetstar multiple times daily to Auckland
Mountain Biking Top Things To Do

How to beat bad weather at Ruapehu ? Go mountain biking!

I’m jaded from optimism of blue sky days at Ruapehu.  Years of experience seeing weather forecasts for blue sky and then driving to Ruapehu and experiencing the opposite has taught me a few lessons.  Although skiing Mount Ruapehu (Turoa & Whakapapa ski fields) is achievable as a day trip from our home in Rotorua it is much more enjoyable when staying the night in Ohakune, that way we can put our feet up in front of the fire without having to endure the drive home at the end of the day.  But with the weather changing rapidly then one’s well laid plans and dreams for two days of clear blue skies and delightful skiing can change!

I’ve decided Ruapehu has three different personalities and here are my recommendations to enjoy each:

“DREAMY” – When the weather is on, the skiing is amazing!

A crisp clear day on Turoa or Whakapapa ski fields is unbelievable, the terrain that is produced from a ski area sitting on top of an active volcano is truly amazing: little gullies, drops, valleys and rocks to play with are scattered all over the place on either side of groomed runs.  You discover on each run a different way down the hill or a fun new feature to play with on your way to the bottom.  Turoa provides wider faster and more open runs to the bottom, the more you venture off piste the more you’ll find.  Whakapapa by comparison provides tighter turns, narrower runs and more varied terrain off piste.  And for the more adventurous a shorter walk up to the volcanic crater.

Get there early to enjoy some “fresh” tracks from the morning groomed runs.

 

“DIDN’T EXPECT THIS” – Bad weather isn’t always bad weather

Although waking to bad weather and poor visibility on the snow camera’s, it is always worth giving Mt Ruapehu a chance to prove herself and talk to the locals what’s going on.  Given half a chance the weather could turn and provide you with a great day, or not !

 

“GO BIKING!” – Bad Ruapehu weather can still mean heaps of enjoyment at the bottom of the mountain.

There is no debate that when the clouds roll in, the rain starts and you are unable to see the skis attached to your own feet that both ski areas are no fun.  In skis areas like North America when visibility is poor you can follow discernable features or contours like trees.  However, there is nothing on North Island ski fields which are going to help when mother nature has her way.  Better to avoid some damage to your body by staying away.

Therefore, head down the mountain to regain visibility below the clouds and get yourself sorted for a day of biking or walking on the host of amazing trails around Ohakune and National Park.  Although you might still get wet, being wet on the bike is fine, but wet on skis is not!

Activities to do when Turoa and Whakapapa are closed or the weather is poor:

We asked Greg, a mountain bike guide from RAG2E, what he does during the winter when the mountain is closed:  “This area is so used to rain but the volcanic soil means the water drains quickly and the trails are still in great condition for mountain bike riding.  In fact I go out almost every day”.  Greg did add that if the temperature at National Park or Ohakune is around 10deg or more then you can easily ride with typical outdoor sports gear.  When it gets colder than that you’ll need to get some gloves and some warmer gear to keep your extremities warm, although if you’ve come prepared for skiing you’ll have pretty much everything you’ll need.

Greg’s recommendation for mountain bike trails during winter:

  • Local mountain bike park in National Park within a pine forest. A combination of volcanic soil and loose pine needles keeps the trail in great condition.  It’s been developed by a few keen local and it’s well maintained, including having the pine needles raked over often.
  • Fishers Track (National Park) – it’s an old access road so it’s got good drainage. Greg even took his (almost) 70yr old mother on the trail.
  • Old Coach Road (Ohakune) – There are a few muddy patches but the council has spread plenty of gravel and keep the trail in good shape.
  • 42 Traverse (National Park) – There are a couple of stream crossings and with high rainfall it can be impassable. It’s use of a guide like Greg, or check with locals to ensure you don’t get an unpleasant surprise and have to turn back.
  • Bridge to Nowhere, with a jetboat ride (National Park) – Good trail in most conditions with parts being gravel, but can still get muddy in the wet. The jet boat operates all year round.

Image – Greg From Rag2E mountain bike guides

Image – Jet boat ride at the end of the Bridge to Nowhere trail

WALKING/TRAIL RUNNING:

  • Old Coach Road (Ohakune) – There are a few muddy patches but the council has spread plenty of gravel and keep the trail in good shape, the massive viaduct near the Ohakune end of the trail is an amazing sight to see.
  • Jubilee Walkway (Ohakune) – Starting at the giant carrot at the Southeastern end of Ohakune township, the Jubilee Walkway winds its way through native bush, making an easy 20 minute stroll.   It can also be linked up with the
  • Waitonga Falls Track (Ohakune) – 11kms out of Ohakune up the Ohakune Mountain Road sits this gem of a track for all levels of fitness with a return journey of just over 4kms. The 39 m Waitonga Falls is Tongariro National Park’s highest waterfall.
  • Taranaki Falls (Whakapapa) – Begins 100 metres below Whakapapa Visitor Centre at Ngauruhoe Place. The upper and lower tracks form a loop with the 20 metre Taranaki Falls situated around the half-way point. Loops track is 6km total.

 

~Written by Clement and James


Good to know:

  • You’ll be lucky to have two days in a row of good skiing at Ruapehu. Be prepared for other great biking activities in the area.
  • Worried about cancellation policy if you’re renting? It’s common for full refund of any days both Turoa and Whakapapa are closed, be sure to check the specific cancellation policies of the business you are booking with.
  • Stay safe and use a guide – Greg from Rag2E guides all year round. He’ll also share his local knowledge and rich history of the region, ensure you make good time to meet a shuttle or jet boat to transport you, plus some good humour along the way.
  • Great businesses in the area available to book on Leap:
    • TCB – Bikes to rent and shuttles
    • Mountain Bike Station – Bikes to rent and shuttles
    • Rag2E – Greg will guide you on some great trails and arrange shuttles at either end of the one-way trails. Just rent your bike (or bring your own) from one of the businesses on Leap.