Looking for the perfect showcase of New Zealand’s stunning greenery and untouched landscapes, rugged beaches with quality surf breaks and some beautiful art and historical attractions? Look no further than the New Plymouth of the Taranaki region – only a 5-hour drive from Wellington.
With the town’s annual Festival of Lights about to kick off this week, transforming Pukekura Park into a stunning wonderland of light for seven weeks, now the perfect time to visit! With 10 new installations to check out (there is 16 in total), there is also many other day and night activities for the whole family. Here is our top tips of where to visit, stay and eat when in New Plymouth!
- Mt Taranaki – without a doubt the highlight of the region. You can marvel at this beauty from town in its full glory with no other mountains or distractions in your way. Take a moment (or more!) to enjoy the breathtaking backdrop of the town, particularly on a blue-sky day. While there is no way to avoid the mountain from afar, a visit to Egmont National Park is also a must to admire from close range. There is plenty of walks and hikes (or tramping as known to locals) to tackle in the Egmont NP. The most noteworthy being the 19km ‘Pouakai Crossing’, which winds around the lower slopes of the mountain and provides beautiful reflective views in mountain lakes – perfect pics for the ‘gram’.
- Art and Galleries – New Plymouth is quite the unassuming art precinct with its variety of art galleries, but also endless amounts of street art. Look out for large murals on buildings and entire walls, and sculptures scattered across town.
Make sure you visit the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/ Len Lye Centre, you can’t miss it with its curved mirror-like architecture entrance. Exhibitions change several times a year and incorporates kinetic contemporary art and Lyn Lee pieces – she’s a New Zealand artist legend. The gallery is also free (bonus!) but make sure you check the schedule as it does close throughout the year due to changing of exhibitions.
- Puke Ariki is also another free museum and is the perfect place to learn about the Maori culture, history of the region, wildlife and the volcanic activity underneath Mt Taranaki
- Pukekura Park, situated right in the heart of New Plymouth, is a stunning 52ha haven of native bush, lakes and venues. Regarded as one of New Zealand’s most beautiful botanical gardens there is walking trails, waterfalls, playgrounds, sporting areas and much more to keep you busy. Look out for the 2000-year-old tree and free Brooklands zoo.
- New Plymouth Coastal walkway spans 12kms from Paritutu Rock to Te Rewa Rewa bridge and is a must do! This well-maintained concrete path is wheelchair and scooter friendly so can be enjoyed by all – other popular choices can be to walk, run, bike, skateboard, rollerblade, whatever you fancy! There is plenty of sights for you take in – aside from the Te Rewa Rewa bridge you can also spot many sculptures including Len Lye’s ‘Wind Wand’, stop at Fitzroy beach (perfect for surfing or surf-watching) and just enjoy the stunning coastal views; all while getting in some exercise – perfect!
For more information about the Festival of Lights please visit https://www.festivaloflights.nz/