Eltham, Stratford and Inglewood
Eltham is known as the cradle of the Taranaki dairy industry (the co-operative system in particular), and for being the one place in New Zealand that manufactured rennet, which is important in cheese making. It was also the first place to export butter to England. Settlement began in Eltham in the 1870s with blocks of densely forested land being taken up. A profusion of sawmilling companies cleared the district, which when grassed was found to be ideal for dairy farming. Eltham has more vintage shops per capita than any other town in New Zealand.
This town is a tribute to the great bard William Shakespeare, named after his birthplace in Warwickshire. The town features 67 streets named after characters from an assortment of Shakespeare’s plays. The town is nestled against the eastern shoulder of Mt Taranaki and the near 9,000 residents are accustomed to a snowfall or two during winter. Stratford is also home to the only Glockenspiel clock tower in New Zealand.
The town is also the starting point of the Forgotten World Highway, the route to Taumarunui which follows ancient Ma-ori trade routes and pioneering tracks.
Inglewood is a quaint town 16km southeast of New Plymouth, nestled under the impressive form of Mt Taranaki. The town boasts a population of more than 3,000, servicing a predominantly dairy farming region. As well as laying claim to eight buildings classified as New Zealand Historical Places it is also home to the oldest remaining railway station on its original site in New Zealand. While this town may be small in size, it is huge in character and reputation.
MUST-DO EXPERIENCES INCLUDE
- A visit to the breath-taking Dawson Falls located at the top of Manaia Rd, Kaponga. The falls are a short 10-minute walk from the carpark.
- The Forgotten World Highway (SH 43) drive is a unique example of untamed native bush and stunning natural scenery. Stop for tasty fare at the Toko Tavern daily from 11am, in the village of Toko on the Forgotten World Highway. Ph 06 762 2835.
- Recognised for their award-winning ecologically driven product, The Possum Factory offers naturally tanned fur products designed to provide true warmth. 1103 Opunake Rd, Mahoe. Ph 06 764 6133. www.envirofur.co.nz
- The Percy Thomson Gallery is Stratford’s public art gallery. New exhibitions start every three to four weeks.The gallery is open 10.30am - 4pm weekdays and 10.30am - 3pm weekends. Located on Prospero Place, Miranda St. www.percythomsongallery.org.nz. Ph 06 765 0917
- If you love a nibble with your evening beverage, call into the Eltham Cheese Shop and Factory, Bridge Street for very reasonably priced cheese.
- Midhirst Tavern – Main Hwy. For great value pub meals. Ph: 06 762 8730.