Scenic Drive 5 - Route
Piopio – Awakino – Mokau – New Plymouth (SH 3)
This main route via State Highway 3 to New Plymouth is very scenic with many attractions along the way.
After leaving Piopio you will travel through the Mangaotaki and Awakino River Gorges, see rolling to very steep farmland, native bush reserves and impressive limestone cliffs. You reach the West Coast at the small settlement of Awakino and just further on is the historic 19th century coastal shipping port of Mokau. The beaches are known for black sand (owing to high iron content), sand dunes, great views and in stormy weather the sea can be spectacular. It is a popular area for fishing, including whitebaiting on the Mokau and Awakino Rivers in the open season.
River trips operate on the Mokau River from Mokau. There is also a very good museum.
Travelling on from Mokau are The Three Sisters signposted at Tongaporutu. These wonderful limestone formations are accessible at low tide by walking around the mouth of the Tongaporutu River. The open beach here provides lovely walking conditions but do do need to be mindful of the tide. This is also near the start of the famous Whitecliffs Walkway.
Forest clad Mount Messenger is only a few kilometres further on. Look out for the Whitecliffs Brewery, four kilometres north of Urenui, where you can sample award-winning organic beer or take a tour. Other food and drink is available. Another attraction before arriving in New Plymouth is the visitor centre at the Motunui Synthetic Fuel Plant.
Approximate travel time: Piopio to Awakino 45 minutes, Piopio to New Plymouth two hours.
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