10 New Plymouth Must-Dos
Things you can’t miss in New Plymouth!
New Plymouth is one of those underrated places in New Zealand. Many backpackers write off even straying off the main highway to venture west to Taranaki but, as you’ll see from this list, there is so much to do in New Plymouth! Whether you’re into city life, art, culture or the great outdoors, there’s pretty much something for everyone in New Plymouth. With that in mind, here are just 10 of the New Plymouth must-dos!
Situated between the sea and the perfectly coned volcano of Mt Taranaki, New Plymouth gives backpackers the best of both worlds: mountains, ocean and a mix of city life as an added bonus. While we have made this list of New Plymouth must-dos concise, you can find far more things to do here by heading over to our New Plymouth – Guide for Backpackers.
1. Climb Paritutu Rock
When you arrive in a new city, the first thing you want to do is get a good perspective of the place, right? You know, get your bearings? Paritutu Rock is THE place to do that in New Plymouth. Be prepared for a short but super steep climb up this massive boulder created by the volcanic activity of Mt Taranaki.
Location: On the west side of the city down Centennial Drive. Signposts point to the parking area.
2. Do the Coastal Walkway
The Coastal Walkway is kind of a staple in New Plymouth featuring lots of fun sculptures and Taranaki coastline along the way. The whole walkway is concrete which is also perfect for cycling. Walk the entire length (12.7km) or simple join onto the walkway spanning almost the length of the New Plymouth coast. A highlight of the walk is the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge so if you have to pick one spot to check out, head there!
Location: The Coastal Walkway spans between Pioneer Park at Port Taranaki to Bell Block Beach.
3. Learn something at the Puke Ariki Museum
Every city needs that boredom-busting museum (or rainy day activity). Puke Ariki is here to serve in New Plymouth! This free-entry museum has heaps to offer from early Maori and European settler history to natural history of Mt Taranaki and all the animals that have come and gone in the region. There are interactive displays for small and big kids alike.
Location: 1 Ariki Street
4. Go surfing!
New Plymouth is a city of surf so it would be a crime to not add surfing to the top five of the New Plymouth must-dos! There are some awesome surf beaches right on the coast of the city, including Fitzroy Beach and Back Beach. If you don’t have your own board, there are plenty of hire outlets or some New Plymouth hostels hire them out free to their guests.
5. Head to the mountain
There are some awesome road trips to be taken from New Plymouth. One of the most popular is to that mountain you can see from the city, Mt Taranaki. Take a trip to the North Egmont Visitor Centre to start one of the many short walks and full-day hikes in the dense forests of the Egmont National Park under the watchful peak of Mt Taranaki. It takes 30 minutes to drive from New Plymouth to the North Egmont Visitor Centre.
Location: From New Plymouth, take State Highway 3 south to Egmont Village. Then follow Egmont Road for 16km all the way to the North Egmont Visitor Centre car park.
6. Visit the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
To experience more of New Plymouth’s artsy side, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery is a great place to start! The impressive architecture from the outside in this mirrored building is just a taste of the creativity and thought-invoking art on display inside. It’s free entry into the art gallery so what do you have to lose?
Location: 42 Queen Street
7. Check out the Three Sisters
Another awesome road trip to do from New Plymouth is out to the Three Sisters and Elephant Rock (or what’s left of Elephant Rock after it lost its trunk in an earthquake). The Three Sisters are three rock stacks isolated from towering coastal cliffs. The whole coast of this area is impressive to check it out. The best time to explore the area is at low tide. Either drive for one hour (from New Plymouth) to the Three Sisters car park just outside of Tongaporutu or walk the Whitecliffs Walkway if you’re feeling up to it. It’s 7 hours one way and starts at Pukearuhe Road in New Plymouth.
Location: From New Plymouth, take State Highway 3 east for 66km until you see the signs for the Three Sisters car park turn off on the left side of the road just before reaching Tongaporutu.
8. Walk around Pukekura Park
For an outdoors activity a little closer to the city centre, don’t miss Pukekura Park. The park has a number of quaint walkways through gardens, duck ponds, lookouts, playgrounds and more. There’s plenty to explore! Come between December and February to catch the Festival of Lights in Pukekura Park which is a free festival with light displays throughout the park and a number of events like live gigs.
Location: There are a number of entrances to the park, most popular are on Fillis Street and Brooklands Road.
9. Hit Surf Highway 45
Let’s give you one last unmissable road trip! Surf Highway 45 starts from New Plymouth and goes through some of the best attractions of the Taranaki coast! There are plenty of awesome sights to see, whether you want to follow the surf beaches, or check out the more historic sites like the best example of an old Maori pa site in New Zealand, Te Koru Pa, the SS Gairloch shipwreck or the Cape Egmont Lighthouse. Take your pick from our list in 18 Places to Stop at on Taranaki’s Surf Highway 45.
10. Wander the city
Finally, our last New Plymouth must-do is simple but definitely worth doing. Simply, walk around the city. New Plymouth is packed with amazing street art, coffee shops, pop-up art galleries and much more! The city is a New Zealand hidden gem when it comes to art and culture so take the time to explore the city and see for yourself.
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