For the first time EVER we visited New Plymouth in Taranaki. It ain’t called Taradise by the locals for nothin’, folks!
It is the most diverse area of New Zealand (or anywhere!) that I’ve been. Not so much culturally diverse – it’s mostly filled with laid-back kiwis escaping Auckland – but it certainly has a diverse landscape.
For Aucklanders, you’d likely not travel further south than Taupo at a stretch during the holidays. But if you were to turn right once you get to the lakes, you’d discover Taranaki.
I feel like it’s New Zealand’s biggest secret because it’s not a place one would stumble across. It’s surrounded by mountains, ocean and miles of untouched countryside.
It’s so unlike Auckland in every way, which is why I loved it. It’s like how I imagined Auckland was 30 years ago, before the housing crisis, traffic and the immigration explosion.
Once we arrived in Taranaki we felt like a huge weight was lifted from our shoulders. Like we could breathe and move. It truely was a healing and peaceful place.
The first thing I noticed was how happy everyone looks. As though everyone has sussed out the work-life balance. After a day there, we realised that may actually be the reason because you could live in a beautiful rural home with a view of Mount Taranaki, while still being a 15 minute drive from the city centre.
No traffic, no time wasting, no stress. It’s easy to have the best of both worlds here: Wake up in a big house with hectares of land (that would probably cost you $400,000 instead of $3,000,000), feed the horses and chooks, leave the house at 8:45am and be in your city office by 9am. Earn the big bucks until 5pm when you drive 10 minutes to one of the infamous surf beaches (where Tom Cruise learnt to surf) for a swim or surf and be home in time for tea!
Honestly, what’s everyone staying in Auckland for?
People are down to earth and so friendly here – they smile and chat to you in the shops.
Oh! Plus, the price of petrol is ridiculously cheap, as is fine dining – at least compared to Auckland.
We stayed in a beautiful country BnB called Villa Heights. Would 100% recommend staying here. Rosemary and John run it and they are ever so kind and generous. The rooms are self-contained and private with a stunning view of the mountain.
We climbed the mountain but decided half way up that we’d rather just go to the beach for the afternoon instead of reaching the snow. Which is what we did.
(Please note: The car park is a 15 minute drive up the mountain and if you discover that the car park is full, it is extremely difficult to turn around and head back as it’s so narrow. It is a major floor in the design of the road and carpark because if you can’t get parked, you basically can’t climb the mountain unless you want to begin the hike from the very bottom of the road. Which would likely add a good 45 minutes to your walk. We were lucky enough to grab a parking space before the queue down the windy road began.)
Would definitely recommend visiting Taranaki if you love the outdoors. The city is okay – but I’m not a city person. Nevertheless, it did remind me of Melbourne a bit.