Taranaki's Surf Highway 45
As its name suggests, Surf Highway 45 provides hours of fun at the handful of beaches along a ribbon of west coast road.
When she’s not competing overseas, professional surfer Paige Hareb is often spotted enjoying all that the highway has to offer. This is her stomping ground; Paige hails from Ōakura, a small township 15 kilometres south-west of New Plymouth.
“Surfing at home is like sleeping in your own bed; it feels safe and comfy,” she says. “It’s a really nice feeling, coming back.”
The feeling of home Paige relishes takes shape in more
than 20 renowned point breaks and views of Mount Taranaki’s iconic peak.
“I love how the highway is a classic two-way road following the coast with glimpses of sea while winding through farmland and small Kiwi towns along the way,” Paige says.
“You can look to one side for views of the ocean, with Mt Taranaki right there on the other side.”
Chasing waves isn’t the only reason to follow the highway. Museums, art galleries and coastal walkways are in abundance. Egmont National Park is always within reach, providing walks up and around New Zealand’s most-climbed mountain. Mount Taranaki gives non-mountaineers an achievable summit challenge. Lower altitude routes are graced with tall rimu, freshwater rock pools and gentle waterfalls, while rainforest is found higher on the slopes, a result of the area’s high rainfall and mild coastal climate.
For Paige, it’s also about enjoying the skate parks in Ōkato and Ōakura, and showing off her swing at Kaitake Golf Course. And of course, catching a breather and enjoying the company of friends and family at one of the local cafés.
But she always gravitates back to the ocean.
“Everyone knows everyone in Taranaki. I see friends out on the water all the time and I try to get my dad and brother out surfing with me too; it’s more fun with friends and family. Although I do appreciate the odd surf by myself when the waves are pumping and no one is around.
“I have spent so much time in the waters along Surf Highway 45; it will always be my home surf area and hold a special place in my heart.”
Reported by Monica Tischler for our AA Directions Autumn 2020 issue