Lower North Island Coastal Exploration
This coastal journey starts at the base of Mount Taranaki and ends in Wellington. Featuring stunning west coast beaches, charming towns and our nation's vibrant capital, this trip is the perfect combination of outdoor adventures and cultural experiences. You’ll need a car, hiking boots and beach gear to make the most of your coastal adventure!
Cruise the coast
Rent a bike and cycle the entire length of the Coastal Walkway, popping into New Plymouth’s museums and cafes along the way. Visit website
Hike in Egmont National Park
Lace up your hiking boots and head up the mountain. There are hundreds of walks, ranging from short strolls to summit hikes. Visit website
Cruise down the Whanganui
Step back in time as you cruise the mighty Whanganui River on an historic paddle steamer. Visit website
Meet the natives
Meet some of New Zealand’s quirky native birds at Owlcatraz Native Bird and Wildlife Park. Visit website
View Wellington from above
Enjoy 360° views of Wellington from Mount Victoria Lookout, accessible by car, bus or walking tracks from below. Visit website
Spend the morning exploring the buzzing town of New Plymouth, which features an impressive Coastal Walkway that stretches for 10km along the city’s waterfront. Rent a bike and cruise down the Walkway, stopping into the town centre along your way for a bite to eat. If you have time, visit the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Zealand’s only contemporary art museum.
You have the option to stay the night in New Plymouth or continue on to Opunake via the Surf Highway, a beautiful stretch of highway that hugs Taranaki’s coastline. The drive takes you almost all the way around Mount Taranaki, so you can take in this impressive volcanic cone from all angles.
Dominated by Mount Taranaki, Egmont National Park is a hiker’s paradise with trails that range in length from 15 minutes to 3 days. My favourite short walk is the trail to Dawson Falls, which ends at the base of a dramatic waterfall. If you’re keen on summiting Mount Taranaki, stop in at the visitors centre to find out what conditions are like on the mountain. It may be the most summited peak in New Zealand, but it’s very challenging and some amount of planning is needed if you’d like to summit.
Head down to Whanganui in the afternoon or spend another night in Opunake if you want to spend more time in the national park or in the cruisy beach town of Opuanke. If you have a time on your way to Whanganui, it’s worth making a stop at the Traders and Whalers experience in Hawera. This remarkable and dramatic exhibit lets you experience the region as it existed 200 years ago.
Relax at our beachfront holiday park before heading off to explore the charming river city of Whanganui. The city has a rich history, thanks to its location on the banks of New Zealand’s longest navigable river. A trip on the Waimarie, an historic paddle steamer, is one of the best ways to experience the river and the city. If you’re after something a bit more adventurous, opt for a white water rafting trip. Check in at the i-SITE to get info about departure times and trip outfitters. When you’re ready to move on, continue south to our holiday park in Levin.
You’re heading to the Big Smoke next, so spend the morning relaxing at one of Levin’s beautiful beaches. We also recommend a visit to Owlcatraz, a purpose-built native wildlife sanctuary. Here you’ll have the opportunity to view some of our native birds, meet spirited farm animals, and even visit a man-made cave complex with real glow-worms! After you’ve had your fill of wildlife encounters, hop into the car for the last leg of your journey.
You've reached your final destination, but your trip certainly isn't over. You’ll probably want to stay at our holiday park for a couple of nights so you can make the most of your visit to Wellington. There's so much to do here that I could probably write an entire itinerary about it!
Wellington is New Zealand’s capital and it is considered by many to be our cultural capital as well. For a comprehensive list of museums, cultural experiences, restaurants, and shopping suggestions, check out Tourism New Zealand’s Wellington page. Some of my top picks for things to do in the city include:
- Learn more about New Zealand’s rich history and culture at Te Papa Museum
- Enjoy the incredible view of downtown wellington from Mt Victoria Lookout
- Catch a ride on the famous Wellington cable car, departing from Lambton Quay
- Stop and smell the flowers at Wellington Botanic Gardens