Mt Taranaki is a perfectly symmetrical, 2518m - iconic volcano in New Zealand. No matter where you are along the stretch of coastline in the area, it dominates the horizon, creating a stunning backdrop as you paddle out to uncrowded waves.
Thankfully the volcano is dormant now, however, the eruptions that last occurred in 1655 have created a series of perfectly formed reefs and points that jut out into the Tasman Sea. This, together with the fact that Taranaki has such a unique landscape, means on any given day the conditions are going to come together somewhere along its coastline.
New Plymouth, Taranaki’s largest city, is where most people first stop along the coastline as they head South, and is definitely worth spending a few nights at. There are heaps of different surf spots near this cool little city (which is growing fast). Fitzroy Beach is the most popular mid-city surf spot; it tends to get busy but it can handle some decent size and get quiet hollow when the conditions are right. Back Beach and Oakura Beach are also good options close by, they aren’t quiet as popular as the main city beaches but are great for swimming and surfing.
Once you have had your fill of the big city lights of New Plymouth, start heading south along Surf Highway which wraps around the coastline of Taranaki. It is one of the most majestic drives you’ll ever take. As the name strongly suggests, there are enough epic set ups along this drive to keep you occupied for a lifetime. One of the first surf spots outside of New Plymouth is called Kumera Patch, which is located between Okato and Warea. Any road that leads you down to the coast between these two places will get you waves, with Kumera Patch being one of the favourites. Just outside of Warea is Stent Road, a well regarded Taranaki break, and one of New Zealand's top spots. It's a big right hand point break, that peels along a stony, rocky shore. The wave has several sections, starting with a hollow drop, barrel section, and wally sections made for big carves. Stent Road can get really crowded, so don’t be afraid to venture a little further to get away from the pack.
From Stent Road continue south along the Surf Highway, where you can find both a mixture of advanced and more friendly surf spots, such as Green Meadows and Opunake. One of the fantastic things about exploring this part of New Zealand, is if you are feeling a bit surfed out or want to try something different, you don’t have to look far. You can easily access many different walks and hikes into the surrounding National Park from the main road. This is also a great chance to see different displays of Maori culture and explore the native bush and scenery. Finally, there are a number of different places to camp and stay along the surf highway, so make sure to add Taranaki to your list to visit if you want pumping waves and to experience a more remote, raw part of New Zealand.