If you’re a fan of television series The Amazing Race, you’re going to love the new game-based app called Trip-to.
It’s all about unearthing the hidden gems of Taranaki through a series of curated mystery road trips completing fun tasks and activities along the way.
Developed by Venture Taranaki and the South Taranaki District Council, Trip-to offers six trips to choose from, with five more trips to be released before Christmas.
All of them are family-friendly but also suitable for a group of friends or a couple – you can make each ‘trip’ as exciting or low-key as you wish.
All the planning has been done for you, right down to the locations, the activities to do at each location, how long each trip will take, mileage and recommendations of what gear to take.
If you’re stuck for something to do with your friends and family during the holidays, or you’re new to the region, Trip-to is the perfect app for you!
SHIPWRECK TO ROSES
On a stormy blustery morning in late November, I joined forces with South Taranaki Mayor Phil Nixon and Sophie Kelly from Venture Taranaki to test-drive one of the trips.
Without giving too much away, here’s a brief rundown of our day.
The app directed us on a 30-minute drive from New Plymouth, down the coast to the wreck of the SS Gairloch.
The shipwreck is one unique attraction most locals will know about or at least have seen photos of, but I can’t even remember the last time I came down here.
After parking at the end of Weld Road, our first surprise was a gorgeous golden butterfly, about the size of a monarch, but lighter in colour with less black. Phil did his best to take a photo but it came out looking much like a dead leaf.
Next was the swing bridge over the Timaru Stream. The instructions to the bridge are easily followed on the app. On a hot summer’s day, you could easily cool off and swim in the stream before continuing across a paddock to the wreck of the SS Gairloch. The app suggests tasks to do at the shipwreck, but you’ll need to visit on a low tide to be able to do them. Make sure you check the tides before heading out on this adventure.
The stormy conditions the day of our visit were quite possibly similar to what the passengers may have experienced. From the driftwood peppered beach we took a moment to imagine that night more than 100 years ago when the ship ran aground. While looking out to the wreck we saw signs of wildlife being in the area so keep an eye an out for seals basking in the sun.
Next stop was the Cape Egmont lighthouse. We found the correct road easily enough, then parked at the beach and walked back up the road to the path leading to the lighthouse. Without the app, I would have wondered if we were at the right place as the path takes you across a cattle stop and up what looks to be someone’s driveway. It is private land, but with public access, so you do need to be quiet and courteous.
There are a few things the app encourages you to find, which is great as otherwise you probably wouldn’t notice a few of the oddities to be found here. The activities at each location bring an immersive element to the trips, so don’t think this is just a sight-seeing tour – you will be encouraged to seek, discover, explore and investigate at each location.
Further on down the coast we stopped at the famous surfboard fence in Ōpunakē and called into the Dreamtime Surf Shop for a coffee and spot of shopping, before heading off to Kaupokonui Beach. A little teaser: the activity based around the Dreamtime Surf Shop location will speak to the creative genius in you!
At Kaupokonui beach, there’s a playground and a terrific slide. My companions eagerly each took a turn going down, however, we decided the slide was less fitting for adults and would be more thrilling for younger ones.
A bridge stretches across the river to epically enormous sand dunes and beyond them, the beach.
The last destination is King Edward Park in Hāwera. There are several treats here for the kids with the Wendy statue, the waterwheel and a fantastic playground. But all ages will find interest in the Sound Mirrors — an installation put in place in 2020, and adults will enjoy the sensory overload at the rose garden.
With the return travel to New Plymouth, this trip took a total of just over 5 hours. With children, swims and a lunch stop, I’d allow 8 hours. Not all of the trips will take this long – the Shipwrecks to Roses trip is a full-day New Plymouth to Hāwera coastal road trip. Some of the other trips are more focused on one area (for example, there is a Pātea-focused trip and an Ōpunakē-focused trip), and will only take up to 2 or 3 hours of your day. The app will pre-warn you how long to expect a trip to take, so there won’t be any surprises.
I’m definitely planning on doing this trip again, but on a sunny day to make the most of the streams and beaches, with a visit to a cafe and/or ice cream option along the way.
ELEVEN TRIP-TO EXPERIENCES TO TRY
With six Trip-To adventures ready to access now, Venture Taranaki and South Taranaki District Council will add five more over the summer.
The titles of the current Trip-To itineraries are: Beaches to Lakes; Shipwrecks to Roses; Statues to Foxes; Murals to Waterfalls; Towers to Driftwood; Bandstands to Burgers.
Complete the trip solo, as a family, with a mate, or a group of mates – the sky’s the limit with how many trippers to bring along.
Put one of the kids in charge of the app, reading out the instructions for your group, then give another child a turn at the next attraction.
Where’s your next Trip-to? Start your Trip-to adventure now, visit tripto.taranaki.co.nz