Kiwi director Justin Hawkes gives his picks for what to see and do in Taranaki
1. New Plymouth Coastal Walkway
I first went to New Plymouth when I was 17 to see a pen pal, when that was a thing. We preferred each other in letter form, but New Plymouth impressed me. In the quarter of a century since, the city has embraced its rugged coastline. The spectacular coastal walkway stretches from the port 13km up the coast. Head to Pig-out Point (it's on Google Maps) to eat takeaways and watch a stunning sunset over the Tasman.
2. Len Lye Centre
New Plymouth's town centre has really brightened up. The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery is a standout piece of New Zealand architecture. The dazzling mirrored steel might burn your retinas, but it's worth it. Inside is the Len Lye Centre with installations of his kinetic sculptures.
3. Mt Taranaki
Tyrone, a local pig-hunter I filmed with described Mt Taranaki as "just a hill with some f****** snow on it," but every other local I met carries some deep connection with Te Maunga. My favourite view of it is from the main street of Patea, where it lines up perfectly with the road.
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Waitara, a small satellite town of New Plymouth, offers a real taste of regional New Zealand. Go and see Vic at the Town and Country Club for old school meat raffles and jugs of beer. Visit Magz and Co for a reading from local shaman Putiputi. There's also B-zone Computer and Aquarium supplies, the wife likes fish, the husband likes computers. My friend Ian said they should rename the shop "Fish and Chips".
Justin Hawkes is the co-director of the docu-series Taranaki Hard, Mondays at 8.30pm on Three
For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, go to newzealand.com