New Plymouth, Taranaki’s largest urban centre, sits poised between the mountain and the sea, on the Taranaki Bight’s northern coast just 30 kms from Egmont National Park. Easy access to Taranaki’s prime attraction is not the only reason to visit New Plymouth. In recent years, New Plymouth has shrugged off its reputation as an agricultural service town, embracing the arts instead, and is now home to two outstanding cultural institutions, the Govett Brewster Gallery and the regional museum, Puke Ariki (Hill of Chiefs).
New Plymouth hosts many musical events during the year, including live performances at the Festival of Lights (December to February), and culminating in the annual three-day WOMAD New Zealand festival, held each March.
In a region of rich soils and dramatic coastlines, there are many beautiful parks, gardens and walkways to enjoy, some right on the city’s doorstep. Land meets sea at the Coastal Walkway, which stretches 7 km along the coast from the Waiwhakaiho River mouth past the CBD to the Port. A short stroll from the City Centre, Pukekura Park is a delightful oasis with extensive rhododendron gardens and lake-side tea rooms.
Lovers of the sea can enjoy New Plymouth’s coastal environment just as easily. Just beyond the western arm of the Port of Taranaki, the Nga Motu/Sugar Loaf Island Marine Protected Area and its neighbour, the Tapuae Marine Reserve, protect the remains of an ancient submerged volcanic cone. The area’s close proximity to the Port makes it a popular and easily accessible diving and kayaking spot, and boat tours within the area operate from the Lee Breakwater. Surfers chasing the elusive perfect wave will be spoiled for choice along Surf Highway 45, whose beaches are renowned for their variety of breaks and surfability on all tides.
Dominated by its austere surroundings, and with its strong agricultural and oil exploration background, New Plymouth is a laid-back kiwi stronghold, but with a touch of class.
Accommodation "Our Pick"
Quest New Plymouth $+
Modern self-contained apartment hotel located in the heart of the city. Close to shops, restaurants, the Coastal Walkway and New Plymouth’s museum Puke Ariki.
21 Currie Street, New Plymouth
Fitzroy Beach Motel $+
New motel, located in the beach suburb of Fitzroy, 200 metres from lifeguard patrolled beach and Coastal Walkway. Five minutes drive to the city centre.
25 Beach Street, New Plymouth
Brougham Heights Motel $+
This motel has spacious units with double glazed windows and is located in the heart of the city. Restaurants, cafes, shops, Pukekura Park and the coastline are just a short walk away.
54 Brougham Street, New Plymouth
Issey Manor Fine Accommodation $$
Four tastefully furnished rooms/suites with flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. Use of guest library, common kitchen and a terrace with barbecue facilities. Just 500 metres from city centre.
32 Carrington Street, New Plymouth
The Waterfront Hotel $$+
Central location on main road overlooking the Tasman Sea, right beside the Puke Ariki Museum. The hotel's Salt Restaurant Cafe and Bar is open daily from 7am till 10pm.
1 Egmont Street, New Plymouth
Taranaki Region - New Plymouth
ACCOMMODATION SPECIALS & GUEST REVIEWS
Restaurants & Cafes "Our Pick"
Gusto Restaurant Cafe
International cuisine on the waterfront.
Ocean View Parade -- Ph: (06) 759 8133
37-41 Brougham Street -- Ph: (06) 758 4812
14 Gill Street -- Ph: (06) 757 8686
Good cafe fare and ambience.
36 Brougham Street -- Ph: (06) 759 8080
Activities "Our Selection"
The Govett Brewster Art Gallery
One of the foremost galleries in the country, with an outstanding collection of contemporary New Zealand and Pacific Rim art, including Len Lye’s studio and archives collection.
Open daily from 10am - 5pm Website
Queen Street -- Ph: (06) 759 6060
Puke Ariki Museum (Hill of Chiefs)
A challenging insight into the region’s Maori and European history, regular contemporary art exhibitions, a changing programme of audio-visual presentations and a fine natural history collection.
Discover what Taranaki is all about, open daily from 9am.
1 Ariki Street -- Ph: (06) 759 6060 Website
Visit Mount Egmont National Park and see the snow capped volcano, Mt Taranaki (no snow in summer).
Caution: All visitors to Egmont National Park should come well prepared, no matter what the time of year - Taranaki’s notoriously rapid weather changes can put lives at risk.
Have a stroll in Pukekura Park, a delightful oasis with extensive rhododendron gardens and lake-side tea rooms.
Or meet the Tasman Sea on The Coastal Walkway, meandering high above the Tasman Sea, this paved promenade is perfect for an early morning jog or an afternoon stroll, with panoramic views of the Tasman Sea punctuated by public art pieces such as Len Lye’s Wind Wand.
The Rhododendron and Garden Festival – annual week-long festival featuring almost 50 gardens, both public and private, plus guest speakers and Jazz and Wine evenings. October-November Website
Festival of Lights – Pukekura Park comes alive. Thousands of lights festoon the trees and live music fills the air every evening from late December till early February.
Free entry. Website
WOMAD – Every March, ‘World of Music and Dance’ brings local and international performers to the Bowl of Brooklands for this 3 day festival. Seniors viewing platforms for the over 65s and on-site camping available. Website
Taranaki Bight, the western fin of the legendary Te Ika a Maui, is a landscape of lush rolling farmland and dramatic coastlines, draped around the feet of the almost perfectly symmetrical cone of Taranaki/Mt Egmont. The region’s rich volcanic soil and bountiful seas are the scene of many tales of war, passive protest, and legend, as successive peoples vied for ownership and control of its riches. Even its mountain is the stuff of legends. Today, Egmont National Park’s beautiful mountain and its surrounding native bush, rivers and waterfalls has an extensive network of day walks and tramps, including the 2-3 day Pouakai Circuit, for summer visitors to enjoy. In winter, the Stratford Mountain Club operates the Manganui Ski Area, on Taranaki’s eastern slopes.
Mt Taranaki is encircled by over two hundred kilometres of coastline. From wild and rocky to surf-kissed and sandy, this coast draws lovers of the sea, from divers to kayakers, fishermen to surfers, all keen to explore its length along SH 45, the Surf Highway, which follows the coast around Taranaki’s western flanks, and SH 3, which leads north from New Plymouth to Waitomo through the beautiful Awakino Gorge.
The region abounds with beautiful gardens, and the secret lies in Taranaki’s rich soil and high rainfall. Rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias grow here in profusion, and in late October and early November, when the gardens are in bloom, garden lovers come to celebrate one of New Zealand’s oldest and most famous festivals, The Rhododendron and Garden Festival. At other times of the year, there are still many parks and public gardens to visit, most notably the Pukeiti Rhododendron Gardens and New Plymouth’s Pukekura Park.
Salt Restaurant Cafe and Bar at The Waterfront Hotel
No booking fees - Pay hotel on arrival.
And in many cases rooms offer free cancellation.
Accommodation in New Plymouth
Puke Ariki Museum, Library and i-SITE
Poet's Bridge in Pukekura Park
Len Lye's Wind Wand on The Coastal Walkway
New Plymouth weather forecast on metservice.com