Ironic, sad, but true – despite having hitch-hiked (or more latterly driven) throughout New Zealand for 30-plus years, it seems I still receive my hot travel tips about go-to locations from foreign backpackers who’ve been here for five minutes.

The prettiest falls in town

The bully for my latest sojourn came from a young Dutch couple who said one of the most inspiring stretches of coastline they’d travelled while tripping around God’s Own was encountered between Marokopa and Tongaporutu on the west coast just north of Taranaki. It didn’t take much to persuade me to throw a sleeping bag and my bashed-up old Nikon in the station wagon and hit the highway.

Marokopa – a show stopper for relaxation

The thing I love about a road trip along the west coast is how abundantly it rewards the inquisitive spirit. A short detour off the less beaten track can kick up some real nuggets – derelict houses a remnant of once thriving communities; a dank, dripping goblin tunnel leading to a secluded beach; a roving band of house-truckin’ hippies circled in a paddock always ready to welcome the more nomadic.

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