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.
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.
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: $35 - $50). Scott's Airport Shuttle also meet every flight with fares starting from $18.00
On the rare days when Mount Taranaki is totally free of cloud, southbound flights can get spectacular views of the mountaintop.
National bus operator InterCity provides daily bus services in and out of New Plymouth and the Taranaki region, with connections throughout the North Island. Fares start from $1 plus booking fee, 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 Street in the city centre.
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.)
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.
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.