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New Plymouth

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New Plymouth is the biggest city in the Taranaki region, located on the western coast of the North Island of New Zealand, about midway, but quite far west, between Auckland and Wellington. It lies on the coastal plains just to the north-west of Mount Taranaki.

Understand[edit]

New Plymouth, population 74,187 (Census 2013) is the main centre of the Taranaki region, which has a total population of around 110,000.

The area has enjoyed the benefits of oil, gas and petrochemical activity and some of the public facilities in the city reflect this relative prosperity.

Get in[edit]

By air[edit]

New Plymouth Airport is located on the coast 7km to the north of the city at Bell Block. A taxi service is available to town (Cost: $25 - $30).

On the rare days when Mount Taranaki is totally free of cloud, southbound flights can get spectacular views of the mountaintop.

By bus[edit]

National bus operator InterCity Coachlines [1] provides daily services in and out of New Plymouth and the Taranaki region with connections throughout the North Island. Fares start from just $1 and can be purchased online or via numerous local agents including the i-SITE information network. Services arrive and depart from the main bus terminal at 19 Ariki St in the city centre.

By car[edit]

State Highway 3 passes through New Plymouth.

From the north (Auckland or Hamilton): State Highway 3 diverges from State Highway 1 at Hamilton and runs via Te Kuiti in the King Country and Waitara in Taranaki. New Plymouth is about 270 km from Hamilton and takes at least 3.5 hours by car, though allow 4.5 hours to be safe. A section of this road is narrow, winding, and includes a short single-lane tunnel. It is prone to closure by slips in bad weather.

From the south (Wellington and Palmerston North): Travel via State Highway 1 and/or State Highway 3 to Bulls then via State Highway 3 through Wanganui to Hawera, then inland via Stratford (which always has petrol 2c a litre cheaper than the standard price) and Inglewood. Wellington to New Plymouth is ~360 km and takes 4.5 - 5.5 hours non-stop, depending on traffic near Wellington; allow 6 - 7 hours including scenic stops and rest breaks.

State Highway 45, The Surf Highway, which follows the coast (though seldom in sight of it) around the west of the mountain, via Opunake, is ~25 km longer and hillier, but scenic, alternative route from Hawera. Allow an extra half hour over travelling State Highway 3 direct.

State Highway 43, The Forgotten World Highway, intersects State Highway 3 at Stratford. This can be an interesting alternative trip from the Central North Island via Taumarunui. The road winds and climbs for 160km and includes about 30km unsealed though a spectacularly beautiful gorge. It's worth stopping at the numerous historical information boards along the way. Allow 4-6 hours. (Note: There is no petrol available between Stratford and Taumarunui and this highway section is difficult to maintain.)

By train[edit]

Passenger rail services ceased in 1985. The remaining railway line is used for goods entering and leaving the port. On rare occasions, a steam engine can be seen on the track. This most likely will be from the Waitara Railway Preservation Society, which runs the engine between Waitara and Lepperton.

Get around[edit]

Within the city of New Plymouth, walking is certainly an attractive option. There is the very nice walking "path" known as the Coastal Walkway, which offers a good view of the Tasman Sea as well as being close to the downtown business section of the city. This walkway is also open to cyclists and is well worth a look. Important amenities such as the Library, the Botanical Gardens and other shopping are within easy walking distance of this coastal promenade. Other walkways, such as the Huatoki and Te Henui walkways intersect the coastal walkway at various points and offer shaded walks or rides, often in the setting of native bush.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Puke Ariki, 1 Ariki St, [2]. Museum, library, visitor information centre, restaurant and cafe. Free entry.
  • Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, Queen St, [3]. Considered the home of one of New Zealand's finest collections of Modern Art, though closed until mid-2015 for the construction of the Len Lye Centre, a new architecturally designed space showcasing the works of celebrated New Zealand kinetic artist and filmmaker Len Lye [4]
  • Lye's kinetic sculpture the Wind Wand [5] is located nearby on the city's waterfront. It is a 45m pole, with a soft red light on top at night, that moves in the wind. Either side of the Wind Wand is the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway, an 11-km long paved pathway that stretches from Port Taranaki in the west to the Taranaki Cycle Park at Bell Block in the east. The walkway passes numerous beaches, summer cafes and other points of interest.
  • Mount Taranaki stands 2418m above the city, and has a number of walking and hiking trails accessible through the North Egmont Visitor Centre, a short drive south-east of the city. Of these, the Veronica Loop Track offers a good short-walk, while the Pouakai Crossing is a renowned all-day walk.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • WOMAD [6] - World of Music Art and Dance festival. March.
  • The Festival Of Lights, Pukekura Park, [7]. Runs annually for about 8 weeks. The beautiful Pukekura Park in the centre of New Plymouth is lit up, with live entertainment and activities for all ages.  edit
  • Pukekura Park, the city's botanical gardens, are excellent and well worth some time spent walking around. There are themed garden areas, small ponds and "lakes", attractive bridges and wonderful trails.
  • Te Rewa Rewa Bridge.  edit


Buy[edit][add listing]

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • India Today, [8]. A great place for Northern Indian food.
  • Pankawalla, [9]. Good Indian cuisine.
  • Marbles, Located at the Devon Hotel. Great buffet restaurant open 7 nights a week.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Quest Serviced Apartments, 21 Currie Street New Plymouth North Island 4310, +64 (0)6 7585483, [10]. Apartment style accommodation comprising of 41 Studio, one bedroom and two bedroom self contained apartments. Located on Currie Street in the current Post Office Building  edit
  • New Plymouth Holiday Park located on the south end of the coastal walkway within easy distance of the city centre. The campground has an excellent view out over the Tasman Sea to the nirth-west as well as the city's harbour just below and with a view of Mt Egmont to the south east when it's clear.
  • Fitzroy Beach Motel, 25 Beach St, Fitzroy (two minutes drive from New Plymouth), 06 757 2925, [11]. Opened in 2009, the newest luxury coastal motel accommodation in town. Free bikes for hire and usage on the proximal coastal walkway. 200m from a lifeguard patrolled beach.  edit
  • Timandra Motel, 31B Timandra Street, New Plymouth (From the south, turn right off State Highway 3 onto Timandra Street, drive to the end of Timandra Street and turn left into the motel), +6467586006, [12]. checkin: 1400; checkout: 1000. The Timandra Motel is a quiet yet centrally located motel at the end of Timandra Street, a no exit road just off State Highway 3. The motel has extensive gardens and offers a mixture of 1 & 2 bedroom en-suite accommodation, suitable for individuals, couples or family groups. $99-200. (-39.0642047,174.091539) edit

Contact[edit]

  • Computer Corner, Richmond Centre, 1 Egmont Street, 06 7589700, [13]. Shorter hours on Sat.; closed Sun. This computer shop has several computers with internet access. $1 for 10 minutes.
  • New Plymouth Public Library has free Internet and WiFi access during library hours.

Get out[edit]

  • Mt Taranaki (Mt Egmont National Park) is a short drive away from New Plymouth. There is a Visitor Centre at the Park Headquarters and many trails up and around the mountain start there. The Visitor Centre is at an elevation of around 900 m so if you plan to hike higher, be aware that the summit is another 1600 metres above you. Watch the weather because it can change quickly.
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