Vacay, play, stay: A guide to Taranaki for Wellingtonians

In between its famous maunga and sweeping shoreline, Taranaki is rumbling with thunderous energy. Take a trip to meet some of our ‘Naki neighbours as they share their favourite mainstays, beach days, and hidden cafés around the region.

Compiled by Callum Turnbull

Tane Morgan
Café owner

Born and bred in Taranaki, Tane says his whānau have been in the province for five generations. “Our maunga, our ocean, our people, it’s one of the better places on earth to raise a young family.” That connection is at the core of his business, Proof and Stock Coffee, which he owns with his partner Adrianna. “We give manaakitia and wel-come people into our home/business on a daily basis.”


Without showing bias towards businesses we supply with coffee, my good friend Jeremy and wife Britt are owners of Fork n Knife restaurant, and it’s our go-to gourmet experience. It’s a New Plymouth hot spot for fine dining, and great service to boot. The Social Kitchen and Table at Nice Hotel is also a must.


Milarky is an amazing studio in the Quarter Bank and has the best art on display. There are always amazing exhibits at our Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. Fenton Street Arts collective is where Adrianna’s parents Jo and Stuart show some of the region’s talented artists – Jo being one of them!


On Fridays we head for a drink at local hot spot Shining Peak Brewery. Jesse brews beer on site. You can get some delicious kai presented by Freddy and topped with amazing service from Luke and the crew, it’s hard to match! Owners Dan and Rene Radcliffe give back to the community. Their 5% project gives a portion of their monthly beer sales towards a chosen charity. They’ve raised over $80,000 to date.


We’re really looking forward to Womad. Epic vibe, amazing food, the diverse array of music in a stunning natural setting. We are so fortunate to host this in our province. TAFT do an amazing job orchestrating such a show!

Jodi Roebuck

Jodi and his wife Tanya are the co-owners of Roebuck Farm, a seven-acre farm just outside New Plymouth specialising in fast crop, year-round vegetables. They grow $250,000 worth of produce each season for restaurants and retail stores in New Plymouth. The locality means they can deliver fresh, quality produce the same day as harvest – something they’ve worked hard to build from the ground up.


Social Kitchen is my go-to gourmet for sure – they have amazing food. I really like the fact that you not only share a table, but everything you order. I really like that style of dining. They’re just so great to work with and they
really get the local and fresh thing.


People will probably find me at Back Beach most Sundays. Good waves and a great place to go walk the dogs.


The best brunch mainstay has to be Monica’s Eatery. They do breakfast and lunch, which is beautiful. We never really used to dine out until we started supplying all the restaurants. And now we dine out a lot. We want to know how the business runs and what they do with our food.

Summer Jane Lahti
Fashion designer

Summer is the founder and owner of fashion brand August Jane. Taranaki’s great walks, beaches, and her morning commute along Te Henui walkway in New Plymouth all help provide inspiration for her work, she says. “I really feel that I have flourished as a designer since I’ve been living in Taranaki.” Living in the province came about unexpectedly. She arrived to visit friends, loved it, and within a week had made plans to move, and signed a lease on her property.


I love The Hour Glass. They have a huge selection of beers and wine, and excellent nibbles. Their atmosphere is incredibly cosy and it’s such a good place to catch up with friends.


My favourite Taranaki treat is Petit Paris. It’s a beautiful French café with the best coffee, croissants, and mini tarts.


If I am being completely honest, most Sundays I am in my studio completing orders for the upcoming week. But before I go in, I always stop at the little Sunday market in Huatoki Plaza for a coffee and cinnamon bun and for fresh flowers in the Summer.


I really enjoy the Festival of Lights. It’s family friendly and fun for all age groups.

Rosie Ralph

An artist originally from Wellington, Rosie’s lived in Taranaki for five years. The creative community and proximity to nature have made it easy for her to settle into life in the region. She says it’s an opportunity to make the most of the slow life: “We still work hard here, but break it up with trips to the bush, mountain, or beach. It’s a great place to forge your path and start something new.”


On Sundays we try to get outdoors as a family. Some favourite walks are Ratapihipihi, Back Beach, and the walkways – Huatoki, Te Henui, Mangaotuku. There are so many beautiful bushy walkways all over New Plymouth.


My favourite Taranaki treat, if I can get there before they sell out, is the dreamy doughnuts from Knead Bakery in New Plymouth. There are usually lines around the block to get a box of them!


Koru on Devon (established by local photographic legend Fay Looney and curated by artist Linda McFetridge) has the best art on display. The gallery exhibits a range of contemporary work and is an exciting hub for passionate creatives.

Dave James

Since 2015, Dave and his partner Jo have been using their combined science backgrounds to distil fresh local botanicals into their award-winning Juno Gin brand. They say that building a business in Taranaki is a lot like a line-out in rugby. “When a person gets lifted up by the rest of the team – that’s how we feel Juno Gin has been treated by Taranaki.”


If friends are staying in town, the Nice Hotel is one of New Zealand’s top 100 hotels. Or try the Belt Road Caravan Park. It overlooks the port and the sea, and they have cabins you can rent. They are just extraordinary.


Our most anticipated event is the Garden Festival. We’re really proud of it as gin makers, because some of the gardens around here are growing the botanicals that we use in our gin.


On Sundays I like to take a walk down to Fitzroy Beach. Stop at The Kiosk for coffee, maybe for a cheese roll. Watch the surfers. There’s enough empty space that you still feel like it’s your beach.

Gary Wood

Gary is a tattoo artist and the co-owner of Brother’s Ink in New Plymouth. He emigrated from the United Kingdom aged 14, and says the Taranaki lifestyle is unlike anywhere else. “I can go from the city, to the beach, to the mountain and the bush in such a short space of time.”


For a local staycation I take my wife to Pouakai Cabins, under Taranaki Maunga, at the base of the Pouaki ranges. There is a cabin, which you get to via a short walk, set in a clearing of native bush with a log fire and bathtub under the stars.


Tattooists spend a lot of time hunched over, so I treat myself by looking after my posture. Kneaded Massage always takes excellent care of me.


When it comes to takeaways, I would fight anyone who thinks Gamma Rays aren’t the best burgers in New Plymouth. They even do a burger that has Mac n Cheese in it!


Taranaki hosts the biggest tattoo festival in the country and this year is the 10th anniversary, so it’s going to be massive and is definitely the event I’m most excited for. It runs for the whole weekend and has something for everyone, whether you want to get a tattoo, listen to some live music, watch the motocross or check out the retail stalls.

Josh Mehrtens

Josh is a producer, songwriter, engineer, film producer, and member of the global band Mild Orange. From the band’s studio in the centre of New Plymouth, he spends his day writing, recording, and running the business. Amongst endless nature and a welcoming community, Josh says most people don’t realise just how much it has to offer. “I’m always making things, and Taranaki is an inspiring place to be creating”.


On a weekday I go to the best sushi spot in NZ, Takasago on Devon St East. No joke. My friends who visit from the big cities agree. Do yourself a favour and go there.


Toret in Oākura has exceptionally good Italian, with a good selection of wine and drinks too.


When we need to escape the city, we head to Mangorei Heights Airbnb. It has an awesome view of the coast, city and mountains. Plus, it’s at the base of the Pouakai Track – a must!

Zhana Hutchieson

Twenty-year-old Zhana has been surfing for more than half her life. She’s one of the region’s brightest riders, and a back-to-back Aotearoa Māori Surfing Titles champion. Most of her time is spent along the coast at competitions, or simply enjoying the surf. “The feeling I get while sitting on my board looking back at the beautiful mountain is truly a magic moment.”


When I’m going to a soirée, you’ll find me at Snug Lounge having a few cocktails. It’s a beautiful area to celebrate birthdays or have a dinner and a catch up.


Most Sundays people will find me either at a local surf competition held at my surf club – Waitara Bar Board Riders Club – or at Fitzroy Board Riders Club in town. If I’m not surfing, I’m always seeking fun with my mates or family.


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