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Your guide to Ōakura
All About Ōakura
The seaside village of Ōakura sits on the western side of the North Island between the North Taranaki Bight and the magnificent peak of Mount Taranaki. Locals call this part of the coast the Surf Highway, and the giant surfboard on the main street is another clue about why a lot of visitors come here, but Ōakura is also a creative community, home to many artists and craftspeople.
Luxury glass-fronted beach houses sit alongside surf shops and food trucks in this laid-back village with dramatic black-sand beaches, where you can sip a latte at a family-owned cafe before taking a bracing walk. Fishing is popular in the area, both surfcasting and fly fishing for brown and rainbow trout in the Ōakura River. There’s even a rusted early-20th-century shipwreck — the remains of the SS Gairloch — to explore a couple of miles west.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Ōakura?
Ōakura has a warm, temperate climate with quite a lot of rain throughout the year. The warmest, driest month is February, when New Zealand basks in summer weather. The coldest and wettest time of year is midwinter, in June and July. The Ōakura Arts Trail has grown into a big event since it started in 2003: during the last weekend of October and the first weekend of November, you can tour the studios of local potters, jewelers, sculptors, and painters. You can also follow a self-guided trail of the studios, which are open all year round.
What are the top things to do in Ōakura?
Buy supplies for a picnic in Ōakura and make the 20-minute drive to Lucy’s Gully, a serene nature reserve among towering redwoods in the Kaitake Ranges. A highly respected Māori woman named Ruhira Matekai (also known as Lucy Stevens) was born here in 1820 and lived and gardened here throughout her life. Lucy’s Gully is also the starting point for the Sefton Track walking trail, which takes around three hours and links to the longer Waimoku Track.
Egmont National Park
Ōakura is a great base for exploring Egmont National Park, which spans more than 200 square miles of stunning mountain scenery, subalpine forest, and waterfalls and offers a wide range of walking paths. Take the boardwalk Mangorei Track to the reflective lake for fabulous views of Mount Taranaki, or walk to Henry Peak Lookout through a landscape of alpine tussock. Another easy path is the 30-minute Kamahi Loop, which includes a forest of gnarled kāmahi trees draped with moss and ferns.
Te Koru Pā
Te Koru Pā is one of the few Māori fortified village sites in New Zealand where you can still clearly see the remains of stone defensive walls and food storage pits. This centuries-old site is a great place to learn about Māori history. You can walk to the site in around 15 minutes on a path that crosses fields leading to the river, and you will soon be surrounded by native forest and birdsong.