New Plymouth is the biggest city (population 50,000) in the Taranaki region, located on the western coast of the North Island of New Zealand, about midway between Auckland and Wellington, but well to the west. It lies on the coastal plains just to the north-west of Mount Taranaki (Egmont).
New Plymouth is the main centre of the Taranaki region, which has a population of 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 7 km to the north of the city at Bell Block. A taxi service is available to town (cost: $15–20).
Air New Zealand Link operates services to Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington, with 6–7 return flights daily to each, using 50-seat turboprop aircraft. Jetstar starts flights to Auckland on 1 Feb 2016.
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 Coachlines 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.
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 Whanganui 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" or coastal promenade which gives the walked a good view of the Tasman Sea as well as being close to the downtown business section of the city. Important amenities such as the Library, the Botanical Gardens and other shopping are within easy walking distance of this coastal promenade.
There are buses on eleven routes on weekdays, branded as Citylink, supported by Taranaki Regional Council. On Saturday buses run on two routes, and none run on Sunday. Within New Plymouth a single fare is $3.70.
- 1 Puke Ariki, 1 Ariki St. Mon - Fri 9.00AM - 6.00PM (Wed until (9:00PM) Sat, Sun 9.00AM - 5.00PM. Museum, library, visitor information centre, restaurant and cafe. Free entry.
- 2 Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, Queen St. Fri - Mon and Wed 10:00AM — 6:00PM, Thu 10:00AM — 9:00PM. One of New Zealand's finest collections of Modern Art. Has a very good cafe and gift shop. Attached to it is the Len Lye Centre, which opened in 2015 in a shiny new extension and houses a collection of works by kinetic artist Len Lye.
- 3 Pukekura Park. daily 7.30AM - 7.00PM (8.00PM during daylight savings). The city's botanical gardens. Excellent and well worth walking around. There are themed garden areas, small ponds and "lakes", attractive bridges and wonderful trails. Attached to the park is Brooklands a further large park, with concert stage and a small zoo. free.
- 4 Wind Wand, on the Coastal Walkway. A kinetic sculpture designed by Len Lye. It is a 45m pole, with a soft red light on top at night, that moves in the wind.
- 5 TSB Bank Bowls New Zealand Museum, Dean Park, Brooklands Road. Tue, Fri and Sat 10:00 - 2.30PM. the world's only lawn bowls museum Gold coin donation.
- Kina NZ Art and Design Space, 101 Devon St West, ☎ . M-F 9:00AM - 5:30PM, Sa 9:30AM - 4:00PM, Su 11:00AM - 4:00PM. Commercial art gallery free.
- The Festival Of Lights, Pukekura Park. Runs annually for about 8 weeks in December and January. The beautiful Pukekura Park in the centre of New Plymouth is lit up, with live entertainment and activities for all ages.
- 2 New Plymouth Observatory, Marsland Hill, Robe St. Nov-Feb Tue only 8.30-10pm; Mar-Oct Tue only 7.30-9.30pm. Volunteer run observatory $5.
- Precision Helicopters Ltd, toll-free: 0800 246 359. Scenic flights around New Plymouth and nationwide air charter services. from $480 for four people.
- India Today, 40 Devon St. A great place for Northern Indian food. around $30.
- Crowded House Bar & Cafe, 93 - 99 Devon Street East.
- 1 Belt Road Holiday Park, 2 Belt Rd, Moturoa (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 north-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. tents $22, cabins from $70.
- 2 Carrington Motel, 61 Carrington Street (near Pukekura Park), ☎ , toll-free: 0800 779 431. $89 - $175.
- 3 Quest Serviced Apartments, 21 Currie Street, ☎ . 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
- 4 Fitzroy Beach Motel, 25 Beach St, Fitzroy (two minutes drive from New Plymouth), ☎ . 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.
- 5 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), ☎ . Check-in: 1400, check-out: 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.
- YHA New Plymouth Sunflower Lodge, 33 Timandra Street, ☎ . Beds from $27, rooms from $50.
- New Plymouth Public Library has free Internet and WiFi access during library hours.
- Mt Taranaki (Mt Egmont National Park) is a short drive 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.
- Stratford - inland Taranaki town