When asked to describe his homeland, (Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Hobbit director) Peter Jackson said “New Zealand is not a small country but a large village” and never a truer word was spoken about New Plymouth. Named after Plymouth in England when the first British settlers arrived in 1841, the city is a hybrid of traditions. Treasure, stories and culture fuse perfectly together with coastal walkways, botanic gardens and award winning golf-courses in this bubbly, artsy city.
Located in the Taranaki Region on New Zealand’s North Island, New Plymouth has won multiple awards for its positive attitude towards pedestrians and cyclists and community sustainability. Ruled by the great outdoors and more notably Mount Taranaki, this majestic 8261 feet/2,518 metre snow-capped active volcano looms over the city with the ever-present threat of eruption (although the last eruption dates back to 1814), thus making the city and its surroundings a veritable haven for those who love outdoor pursuits. Rising above the clouds, the volcano beckons walkers and those who do make it to the top are compensated with spectacular sea vistas from their privileged position, perched high above the city.
If you have no heads for heights and prefer to keep your feet firmly on the ground, New Plymouth’s Coastal Walkway will be just what you are looking for. A six mile/ten kilometre parade stretching for almost the entirety of the city, the Walkway is dotted with cafés along the way and is clearly signposted so that you know how far you have gone (or don’t want to go!). Enjoyable by bike or simply on foot any time of the year, the award winning Walkway takes you through picturesque farmland, past the Waipu Lagoons, to the surfing beaches of Fitzroy and East End. The dramatic Te Rewa Rewa Bridge, locally known as Whalebone Bridge, frames Mount Taranaki where photo opportunities abound! Further along sits the iconic Len Lye Wind Wand and the eclectic Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. Historians will be pleased to know that this is where the wonderful Puke Ariki library is also found, a hideout for the young and old, and especially attractive in case of unlikely poor weather. The library houses more than 6,000 Maori taongas, and offers a thorough look at Maori history. The library has a treasure hunt for the young (and perhaps the young at heart), hosts interactive crafts workshops and has an engaging temporary exhibition arts schedule. If you still have any energy left at the end of the walk, then why not enjoy beach at Ngamotu and perhaps enjoy a spot of kayaking or paddle-boarding.
With seats every 100-meters (330 feet) or so, the Walkway caters to everyone, from the super-fit to those with reduced mobility. Plenty of locals use the Walkway making it the beating heart of New Plymouth — quite simply not to be missed.
Described as the jewel in New Plymouth’s crown by locals and visitors alike, the Pukekura Park is a beautiful haven of peace and tranquillity any time of the year. Covering 52 hectares, it includes formal and informal flowering gardens, towering trees and peaceful lakes with water lilies, waterfalls and rowing boats as well as countless little gardens and pockets of serenity to enjoy. Established in 1876, the park has a wonderful playground for children and also includes a cricket pitch, which saw a One Day International match in 1992 during the Cricket World Cup. The Park also accommodates The Tea House, an English-style café set on a lake serving cream teas, cupcakes, cookies and delicious home-made fudge. Take your cup of tea out onto the veranda and enjoy your well-earned refreshment in an exceptionally unique and beautiful setting. Pack a picnic and meander along the fragrant, earthy paths, enjoy the in-house zoo and just relax and unwind in this botanic paradise.