Mount Taranaki/Egmont dominates the landscape in Taranaki. The land has
been shaped by volcanic activity long ago. forming Mt Taranaki/Egmont, the
Pouakai and Kaitake Ranges. The mudflows from Pouaki and Mt Taranaki/Egmont
have left vast lahars which can be seen best on the western plain around
the mountains. The Sugar Loaves, eroded stumps of an old volcano crater off
the coast of New Plymouth, have been declared a marine park because their
deep canyons, numerous lava-rock caves, and the convergence of warm
northern currents and cold southern currents attract diverse marine life.
Taranaki - Mount Egmont north side - Credit- Peter Hunt
Along Taranaki's coast are many 25-metre tall pinnacles separated long ago
from the 100-metre distant cliffs. At present they stand tall but the sea
will eventually erode them away. To view these tall pinnacles walk along
Cliffs walkway between Pukearuhe and Tongaporutu. Look for White Cliff
Walkway signs. If you can only afford half an hour, visit the outstanding
Three Sisters at Tongaporutu. The drive along the Surf Highway offers
beautiful scenery and passes through interesting small settlements full of
history. The beaches offer excellent surfing and windsurfing spots with a
choice between family beaches and more demanding surf.
Taranaki has a typical west coast climate with a good deal
of rain. Visitors must keep watching for a glimpse of the beautiful
cone-shaped mountain as it is often hidden in cloud which can clear most
unexpectedly. Around the foot of the mountain is rich farmland ideal for
dairy farming. Along the Taranaki coast are numerous beaches with strong
surf. With the discovery of natural gas off the coast a large petrochemical
industry has been developed.
In Egmont National Park there are areas of subalpine forest and rainforest,
mountain streams and waterfalls, and volcanic landforms. It includes Mt
Taranaki/Egmont and the Kaitake Range to the northwest. There are visitor
centres on the north, east and south sides of Mt Taranaki/Egmont giving
information on walks ranging from easy walks to demanding climbs.
The main centre in the area is New Plymouth which is well known for its
coastal walk, the contemporary art museum the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
with the Len Lye feature, the museum/library Puke Ariki, and its beautiful
gardens, especially Pukeiti Rhododendron Trust a short distance from the
Taranaki - Dairy Farm with Mount Egmont in background - Credit- Peter Hunt
Hawera in the south is the centre for the flourishing dairy industry.
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