Surf Highway 45 is aptly named. It follows the 105 kilometre stretch of hemispherical Taranaki coastline from Mokau in the North to Waitotara in the South with the snow capped Mount Taranaki at its heart. The coast collects 180º of swell so you can guarantee good surf somewhere almost every day of the year and it’s no surprise that Taranaki has produced some of New Zealand’s best surfers.
Melt water from the mountain can keep the ocean pretty cool so you’d be advised to pack a steamer even in the warmer months. The beaches have great names too – Kumara Patch, Stent Road, Graveyard, The Dump – but you can probably tell not all are suitable for beginners. If you’re starting out it will pay to visit one of the local surf schools for lessons, or information about where’s a safe place to learn.
Although surf is an excellent reason to take this magnificent drive it’s not the only reason; the Egmont National Park is spectacular in all seasons and particularly dramatic when the mountain has a full covering of snow in the winter months.
The Cape Egmont lighthouse is also worth a visit; located at the end of Cape Road it marks the westernmost point of the Taranaki coastline and is still working over two hundred years after it was built. And why not finish up at Nigel Ogle’s labour of love, the Tawhiti Museum; widely regarded as the best private museum in New Zealand which tracks the history of the South Taranaki region?
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Editorial by Jooles Clements