Toast of Taranaki

Arts, culture, hiking and fine dining abound in New Plymouth, on the west coast of New Zealand. The Australian’s Jane Nicholls recommends some highlights.

“New Plymouth is festooned in festivals, including the world music festival WOMAD (March), the Festival of Lights (December-February) and the Taranaki Garden Festival, blooming in October. All are big-city quality, minus the crush,” Nicholls writes.

“[New Zealanders] enjoy a disproportionate number of brilliant museums. One of them is New Plymouth’s Puke Ariki, which ups the ante with a library and information centre all in one, making it a sensible starting point. We find artefacts and stories from the Taranaki district’s Maori people and local research projects, including a collection of juicy historical scandals.

“David Chadfield, aka Happy Chaddy, promises to ‘do anything to make you smile’ when he takes you out in his old English lifeboat (a Liverpool-class C, for you old salts). Chaddy has a lifetime of stories, the gift of the gab and a boatshed crammed with memorabilia from his days as a professional boxer and shark fisherman. Once you get out of the harbour, the lifeboat rocks and rolls as it heads to the seal colony on Sugar Leaf Island and Chaddy checks on lobster pots, pointing out various seabirds.

“The mountain formerly known as Egmont, the region’s iconic, Fuji-esque landscape beacon that last erupted in 1755, is now Mount Taranaki. On the drive to the plateau car park, lush rainforest gives way to alpine vegetation and there’s a spectacular view from the lookout. We only have time for part of the Enchanted Track, but there are more than 200km of tracks to explore.”

Original article by Jane Nicholls, The Australian, September 16, 2017.

Tags: Australian (The)  David Chadfield  Festival of Lights  Happy Chaddy  New Plymouth  Puke Ariki  Taranaki  Taranaki Garden Festival  WOMAD