Introducing Taranaki & Whanganui
Halfway between Auckland and Wellington, Taranaki (aka 'the 'Naki') is the Texas of New Zealand (NZ): oil and gas stream in from offshore rigs, plumping the region with enviable affluence. New Plymouth is the regional hub, home to an excellent art gallery and provincial museum, and enough decent espresso joints to keep you humming.
Behind the city, the moody volcanic cone of Mt Taranaki demands to be visited. Taranaki also has a glut of black-sand beaches: surfers and holidaymakers swell summer numbers.
Further east the history-rich Whanganui River curls its way through Whanganui National Park down to Whanganui city, a 19th-century river port that's aging with artistic grace.
Palmerston North, the Manawatu's main city, is a town of two peoples: tough-talkin’ country fast-foodies in hotted-up cars and caffeinated Massey University literati. Beyond the city the region blends rural grace with yesterday’s pace: you might even find time for a little laziness!