Falling in love with the Naki

Stephen Heard



Stuff NZ Newspapers


Stuff Travel

Ireally didn’t know what to expect on my first visit to New Plymouth, but by the second day we were looking up rental listings beside the water. The pipe dream could have come about as we slurped mocha thickshakes from the kiosk tucked into the side of the Fitzroy Beach surf lifesaving club. It might have been while inhaling the fresh sea breeze along the Coastal Walkway, or walking between ultraviolet spaghetti at the annual Festival of Lights at Pukekura Park. But it was probably something to do with the cocktails in the West End Precinct. The energetic hub of fashion and food, or New Plymouth’s version of Ponsonby Central, is in the heart of the cultural quarter opposite the Len Lye Centre/ Govett Brewster Art Gallery – another star attraction, inside and out. We didn’t follow through with the permanent Taranaki lifestyle, but left content that we had ticked off the greatest hits of the region. I had certainly underestimated the North Island’s marvellous west coast bulge. It has surprises waiting around every corner. I felt a similar buzz this week reading through Stuff Travel’s dedicated Taranaki issue. I can’t wait to return with my two daughters to visit Te Popo Gardens, which Brook Sabin says is one of the region’s best hidden gems. The 13-hectare garden near Stratford is home to 40 lifesize sculptures of African animals and a fairy forest walk. Sabin points out even more Taranaki secrets on pages 34-35, including the country’s newest luge and spectacular coastal formations that stand up to Victoria’s Twelve Apostles. If you are thirsty for more, turn this page, where Brett Atkinson takes a self-guided craft beer tour between urban taprooms and rustic breweries, or take a look at page 31 to read about Pamela Wade’s scenic journey around the maunga. Once you have flicked through this issue, be sure to check out Stuff Travel’s latest Go-To Guide ,at stuff.co.nz/go-to-taranaki.