New Plymouth City Guide
New Plymouth is graced by historic buildings, beautiful gardens and miles of black sand beaches. As Taranaki
's largest city, New Plymouth is an ideal base from which to explore the region's many natural attractions, including the rugged Egmont National Park
just 32km away.
New Plymouth enjoys a dramatic coastline and
fine surf beaches, stretching down the west coast
. New Plymouth is
home to some of New Zealand's finest parks and gardens, such as Pukekura
The Rhododendron Festival, held in October/November, draws visitors to
New Plymouth from around the country, while the annual Festival of
Lights creates a spectacle in Pukekura Park from late December to early
February. New Plymouth also hosts the biennial Taranaki
Festival of Arts
during February and March.
Get Your Bearings
Devon Street is the main road. A one-way system runs parallel to this on
Powderham and Courtenay Streets (running north) and Vivian and Leach
Streets (heading south).
Things to Do
- Egmont National Park
With Mount Taranaki/Egmont at its heart, this scenic 33,534ha park is one of the country's most accessible, providing more than 140km of walking tracks, and skiing during winter.
- Lake Mangamahoe
This lake and wildlife reserve south of the city is a popular picnic spot, known for its beautiful reflections of Mount Taranaki.
- Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
One of the country's finest contemporary art galleries, and famous for its film archive on the pioneer animator, Len Lye.
- New Plymouth Coastal Walkway
Stretching for 7km along the city coastline, the walkway is an ideal place for walkers, rollerbladers, cyclists and runners.
- Taranaki Rhododendron and Garden Festival
Held from late October to early November, this festival showcases more than 60 private gardens in Taranaki, 'The Garden of New Zealand'.
A magnificent hybrid rhododendron and azalea garden set in 360ha of rainforest 20km south of New Plymouth. The blooms are best seen from September to November.
- Pukekura Park
A 52ha reserve of ponds, streams, waterfalls, native ferns and trees, exotic shrub, terraced glasshouses and Brooklands Zoo. The park is especially beautiful in the evenings from December to early February, when the gardens are floodlit for the TSB Bank Festival of Lights.
- Brooklands Park
Adjoining Pukekura, this attractive park features the Bowl of Brooklands – an open-air soundshell set against a backdrop of native bush and seating up to 19,000 people.
- Heritage Walkway
A self-guided Heritage Walkway takes in some 30 historic buildings around the city, including St Mary's Church on Vivian Street – the oldest stone church in New Zealand – and Richmond Cottage, on Airiki Street. A leaflet is available from the information centre.
Sentry Hill Winery is set in berry gardens, with free sampling and the opportunity to pick your own fruit in season. Cottage Wines specialises in fruit wines, honey mead and cider. Winery tours are available by arrangement.
New Plymouth's coastline offers world-class windsurfing and surfing, with good surf spots at Fitzroy, East End, Back Beach and Oakura.
- Sugar Loaf Islands Conservation Area
A volcanic group of islands and rocks scattered off the western foreshore of the city, and a refuge for native fur seals and seabirds. The park offers opportunities for diving, bird watching, walks, sailing and surfing, while the seal colony is best viewed from June to October.
- Todd Energy Aquatic Centre
Facilities include New Zealand's tallest hydroslide, a wave machine, indoor heated pools, spam, steam room, sauna and outside pools.
- Puke Ariki
A fully integrated museum, library and visitor information centre where the stories of Taranaki are told through permanent displays and an innovative activities programme.
This volcanic cone is a popular viewpoint offering a vista over the city and across to the Sugar Loaf Islands.
- Pouakai Zoo Park
Exotic animals and birds in natural surrounds, and the largest privately owned primate collection in New Zealand.
The great outdoors constantly beckons in New Plymouth. The Taranaki
coastline is a favourite with swimmers, surfers and fishers, while the Sugar Loaf Island and its seal colony provides another popular drawcard. The region's rivers offer a range of activities from dam dropping to canoeing.
- Off the Beaten Track Adventure
Horse riding, 4x4 driving, canoeing, hunting and camping options.
Horse trekking from one-hour rides to two-day safaris. Rides also incorporate dairy farm visits.
- Camp n Canoe
Guided river tours on the Waitara, Mokau and Whanganui Rivers. Trips from half-a-day to five days.
- Chaddy's Charters
Offering cruises to Sugar Loaf Island to visit the seal colony in an old English lifeboat.
- Kaitiaki Adventures
Adventure, eco and cultural tours along the Waingongoro River, incorporating whitewater sledging and dam dropping.
- Mokau River Cruises
A three-hourly cruise to Mackford Cottage Garden and Weaving Studio. Cruises operate October to April.
- New Plymouth Underwater
Learn to dive courses. Dive charter options also available.
- Taranaki Fishing Charters
Deep sea fishing with tackle and bait supplied. Fish filleted, ready for cooking.
Galleries & Museums
Taranaki's scenery has inspired many an artist and the strong arts tradition is apparent in the number of galleries and museums, the best-known being New Plymouth's Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. A variety of regional museums showcase everything from toys to lawn bowls.
New Plymouth's Museums
- Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
The city's major contemporary art museum with a Len Lye archive, video access to the National Film Archive, a gallery shop and a café.
- Art Gallery at the Crossroads
Gallery and gardens featuring work by local and international artists and sculptors.
- R M Landers Stained Glass Art
Taranaki's oldest running studio specialising in decorative stained-glass installations and sculptured and kiln-formed glass objects.
- The Gables Gallery
Set on Brooklands Park Drive, this gallery is run by the Taranaki Society of Arts and displays local artists' work. It was originally built in 1846-48 as a hospital by the Governor, Sir George Grey. The Gables is open weekends and public holidays.
- Taranaki Aviation Transport & Technology Museum
An overview of aviation transport.
- Puke Ariki
Taranaki's heritage and information centre incorporates the Taranaki Museum collection, with displays documenting Taranaki's Maori and European history. Maori stone sculpture and stone-tooled wood carvings retrieved from swamps in North Taranaki are on display.
- TSB Bank Bowls New Zealand Museum
A unique museum showing the complete history of lawn bowls.
Educational Visitor Centres
- Tawhiti Museum, Hawera
A multi-award winning museum with life-size and life-like models depicting the region's history.
- Taranaki Pioneer Village, Stratford
Taranaki's pioneer days recreated on a 4 hectare site. Fifty buildings have been decorated with authentic period furnishings.
- Tainui Historical Museum, Mokau
The history of local people, communities, industries and farming, with an extensive photographic collection.
- South Taranaki District Museum, Patea
The pre-European and post-colonial history of South Taranaki, including industrial and domestic technology, horse and motor vehicles and a Patea Port display.
- Mineral Museum, Inglewood
World-wide collection of gems, minerals, crystals, fossils and locally made carvings and jewellery.
- Fun Ho! National Toy Museum, Inglewood
More than 3000 Fun Ho! toys, replica toys and spare parts.
The dairy and energy industries play a huge role in Taranaki's wealth and their impact can be explored at the following educational visitor centres:
- Dairyland Visitor Centre
An insight into the operation of the Kiwi Co-operative Dairy Company with more than 20 audiovisual and interactive displays.
- Methanex New Zealand Visitor Centre
Video models and photos show how natural gas is converted into methanol. Speakers available by booking in advance.
- Shell Todd Visitors Centre
Located at the Maui Production Station, Oaonui, which produces natural gas.
Parks and gardens add greatly to the charm of this port city, famous for its annual rhododendron festival in November. Popular gardens include:
A hybrid rhododendron and azalea garden in a 360 hectare rainforest setting.
- Pukekura Park & Brooklands
An inner-city park with flower gardens, native bush, lakes, streams and a waterfall and fountain. Includes a fernery and display house, children's zoo and the historic Gables Gallery. Rowing boats are available for hire on the lakes.
A Queen Elizabeth II National Trust garden centred around the Chapman Taylor house, with trees and water features.
- Puketapu Iris & Day Lily Gardens
A colourful and large array of iris and day lilies. Open September to February.
- Tawa Glen Gardens
Featuring 1.6 hectares of rhododendrons, heritage roses, perennial borders and a lake.
- Hollard Gardens, Kaponga
A Queen Elizabeth II National Trust garden featuring a collection of interesting and rare plants, including rhododendrons, bog gardens and native bush.
- Ngaere Gardens, Stratford
Taranaki's oldest garden established during the 1880s, and featuring birds, lakes, fountains and an old English-style bridge.
- Hikurangi, Okato
About 2.8 hectares of parkland and gardens, open from October to May. The woolshed contains a small museum.
- Ngamamaku, Oakura
Interconnected gardens with a stream, bridges, bush, an aviary and a formal rose garden.
- Te Popo Gardens, Stratford
A 2.4 hectare woodland garden famous for its birds, and with a rare collection of deciduous trees. There is an attractive native forest walk along a deep river gorge.
The area's economy has a strong agricultural base, with emphasis on
dairy farming. There is oil and gas production, a natural gas fuelled
power station and other petrochemical industry, heavy and light
engineering, horticulture and tourism.
Hotel meeting rooms for small conferences, up to 450. TSB Showplace offers theatre-style seating of 455 and exhibition space.