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Time to take the kids to Taranaki

A short 90-minute direct flight from Christchurch, you’ll find New Plymouth, Taranaki – the perfect holiday destination for the whole family. 

Families can get active along the award-winning Coastal Walkway, a promenade extending 12.7km, with sculptures, cafés and playgrounds dotted along the way. Or, if you’re in the mood for speed and competition, head to Hillsborough Hideaway to take on the downhill luge course or Bathurst-themed mini-putt. 

Explore nature’s playground on Taranaki Maunga. Kids will be enchanted by the magical Goblin Forest, and delighted with the crystal-clear waters of Wilkies Pools, a series of natural plunge pools sculpted by lava flow over 20,000 years ago. If you’re looking for a family challenge for fit legs, try the 2-3-hour trek to the Pouakai Tarn.

While there’s no shortage of sunny days in Taranaki – the sunniest region in New Zealand – sometimes a day indoors is needed. Take the family to Bowlarama for ten-pin bowling, laser tag, arcade games and an 18-hole black light mini-putt course. Fun Ho! Toy Museum displays toys from the decades with live demonstrations of the toys being made. See the past revealed through the life-size and scale model displays at Tawhiti Museum, and be enthralled by the underground boat ride at Traders & Whalers. 

Satisfy those hunger pangs at Marble’s Buffet, a firm family favourite, or head to Deluxe Diner for one of their famous freakazoid milkshakes. Upside Down Eatery has a relaxed ambience, or for a meal with a view, try Mountain Restaurant atop Taranaki Maunga.

Discover all there is to see, do, eat and experience at taranaki.co.nz/visit

Fun and free in Taranaki

Accommodation, travel, food, excursions and extra ice creams… family holidays can be expensive. That’s why Taranaki was such a revelation for our family. We did something super fun every day, without spending a cent on entertaining the kids. Here’s what we did, so you can check it out too. By Sonia Speedy

About half an hour out of town is the Pukeiti Botanical Gardens, home to one of the world’s biggest collections of exotic plants. The real headliner for us was the Kids Treehouse Trail. The kids followed the map completing fun nature-based tasks as they went. Open every day and totally free!

About an hour south of New Plymouth in the Egmont National Park is Dawson Falls or Te Rere o Noke. At the end of a short bushwalk is the 18-metre high waterfall. Also tucked in the bush is one of New Zealand’s oldest operational power generators, which had our kids asking plenty of questions and Dad busy explaining how it all worked.

Pack the bikes! We didn’t and regretted it. The Coastal Walkway follows the sea edge along almost the entire length of New Plymouth. What impressed us was Kawaroa Park which has two big slides that look like they’re going to shoot your children straight out into the sea. 

We had an entertaining morning checking out capuchin monkeys, meerkats, parrots, kune kune pigs, alpacas, otters and capybaras (amongst other creatures) at Brooklands Zoo. Amazing value for the $0 price tag. What’s more, there’s a playground and you can buy coffee, too.

Just waiting to swallow up the kids for a few hours is New Plymouth’s museum, Puke Ariki. Our girls were in a frenzy rushing around the hands-on exhibitions. They loved the ongoing ‘Reef Alive!’ exhibition, spending ages playing on the life-size boat.

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