Named after the English city of Plymouth from where its first settlers migrated, New Plymouth is backed by the dramatic cone of Mount Taranaki. It’s a popular destination during the rhododendron season when its gardens ignite in colour and has been nicknamed New Zealand’s “oil town” due to its offshore rigs.
Things to do in New Plymouth
The Coastal Walkway stretches the entire length of New Plymouth, from the mouth of Bell Block in the east to Port Taranaki in the west. Whether you want to walk, run, cycle or skate, it’s a great way to soak up the views across the west coast and witness the iconic Te Rewa Rewa Bridge.
The waterfront area of New Plymouth is home to the Puke Ariki museum, with exhibitions detailing the heritage of Taranaki, as well as the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre. This is the first and only museum dedicated to contemporary art in New Zealand and honours the pioneering filmmaker and kinetic sculptor, Len Lye.
To the south of the CBD sprawls Pukekura Park, which is magically illuminated for the festival of lights that takes place during the summer months. If you love rhododendrons, be sure to visit the Pukeiti gardens in the nearby Pouakai Range that are particularly famed for these flowers.
New Plymouth is the gateway to Egmont National Park, which encompasses the volcano of Mount Taranaki to the south of the city. Enjoy a short walk along the Kamahi Track or tackle the three-day Pouakai Circuit, with lush rainforests, subalpine landscapes and waterfalls to discover.
Getting around New Plymouth
New Plymouth Airport lies 15 minutes’ drive north-east of the city centre and connects with destinations across New Zealand. Public buses travel throughout the city centre, and there are well-designed walking trails and bicycle pathways.