The Must-Dos in New Plymouth!
New Plymouth is one of those underrated cities in New Zealand. Many travellers write off even straying off the main highway to venture to Taranaki but, as you’ll see from this list, there are so many amazing things to do in New Plymouth! Whether you’re into city life, art, culture or the great outdoors, there’s something for everyone in New Plymouth. With that in mind, we’ve compiled some of the New Plymouth must-dos.
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 The Complete Guide to New Plymouth.
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? Well, Paritutu Rock is the place to do that in New Plymouth. Be prepared for a short but super steep climb up this massive boulder on the coast of New Plymouth created by the volcanic activity of Mt Taranaki. Plus, check out more free attractions like this in the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in New Plymouth.
Location: On the west side of the city down Centennial Drive. Signposts point to the parking area. Approximately 5km (3 miles) from New Plymouth city centre.
2. Walk or Cycle the Coastal Walkway
The New Plymouth Coastal Walkway is kind of a staple in New Plymouth featuring lots of fun sculptures and picturesque coastline along the way. The whole walkway is concrete which is also perfect for cycling. Walk the entire length (12.7km/7.9 miles) or simply 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! Learn more about the walk and others in the 8 Wonderful Walks in New Plymouth.
Location: The Coastal Walkway spans between Pioneer Park at Port Taranaki to Bell Block Beach.
3. Learn Something New 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. Other museums in the area include the Taranaki Aviation Transport & Technology Museum, TSB Bowls New Zealand Museum and Fun Ho! National Toy Museum. See more activities like this in the 10 Things to Do in New Plymouth with Kids.
Location: 1 Ariki Street, New Plymouth city centre.
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 best things to do in New Plymouth! 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, such as Beach Street Surf Shop (39 Beach Street), or some New Plymouth hostels hire them out free to their guests.
Location: Fitzroy Beach – Beach Street, approximately 2.5km (1.6 miles) from New Plymouth city centre. Back Beach – Centennial Drive, approximately 6km (3.7 miles) from New Plymouth city centre.
5. Head to the Mountain and Forests of the Egmont National Park
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. Check out some of the walks in the 6 Hikes You Have to Do in Egmont National Park.
Location: From New Plymouth, take State Highway 3 south to Egmont Village. Then follow Egmont Road for 16km (10 miles) 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. See more experiences like this in the 7 Luxury Activities in New Plymouth. Other galleries worth visiting include The Gables Colonial Hospital, KINA NZ Design + Art Space, Korver Molloy Gallery and The White Sail Gallery. Find out more in the 10 Best Galleries & Museums in New Plymouth.
Location: 42 Queen Street, New Plymouth city centre.
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 an impressive sight, so time your visit with low tide to be able to explore as much of the beach and cliffs as possible. 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. [Update: The Whitecliffs Walkway has closed off the part of the track that reaches Tongaporutu, so the Three Sisters can no longer be accessed from the walkway].
Location: From New Plymouth, take State Highway 3 east for 66km (41 miles) 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, the most popular are on Fillis Street and Brooklands Road, less than a kilometre from New Plymouth city centre.
9. Take a Trip to New Plymouth’s Other Gardens
Pukekura Park is just the beginning of the gorgeous outdoor spaces around New Plymouth. The garden of Pukeiti is a bit of a drive out of the city but is well worth it with its colourful display of rhododendrons and other lush exotics. Or not too far, Tupare offers gorgeous landscaped gardens backed by a historic homestead. Learn more about these gardens in the 10 Must-See Parks & Gardens in Taranaki.
Location: Pukeiti – 2290 Carrington Road, approximately 23km (14 miles) from New Plymouth city centre. Tupare – 487 Mangorei Road, approximately 7km (4 miles) from New Plymouth city centre.
10. Take a Road Trip on 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 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.
Location: State Highway 45 leaving west of the city.
11. Walk, Cycle or Take a Picnic to Lake Mangamahoe
A must-visit for photographers, this manmade lake just outside of New Plymouth makes for a stunning reflection of the region’s natural features, notably Mt Taranaki. Take a picnic and relax by the lake with 262ha (647 acres) of forest surrounding Lake Mangamahoe. The area can also be enjoyed on a loop walk and mountain biking trail. See more activities like this in the 10 Romantic Activities in New Plymouth for Couples.
Location: Access from Junction Road and Plantation Road, approximately 12km (7 miles) from New Plymouth city centre.
12. Do a Brewery Tour
New Plymouth has quite the foodie scene, including a couple of craft breweries. The Shining Peak Brewery offers brewery tours to take you behind the scenes of their brewing facility to learn about the brewing process. The tour also includes a pint of beer on arrival, a tasting paddle, a can of beer to take home and a souvenir hat! Alternatively, check out Mike’s Brewery & Bistro, home to one of the first craft breweries established in New Zealand. Casual brewery tours are sometimes available here if you express interest. See more experiences like this in the 7 Things to Do in New Plymouth for Foodies.
Location: Shining Peak Brewery – 59 Gill Street. Mike’s Brewery & Bistro – 186 Devon Street East, New Plymouth city centre.
13. Kayak to the Sugar Loaf Islands
Mt Taranaki and Paritutu Rock are not the only reminders of New Plymouth’s volcanic past. The Sugar Loaf Islands just off the coast of New Plymouth are more volcanic formations that are fun to explore. Join a kayaking tour with Canoe & Kayak Taranaki to circumvent the island with seals to see and arches to paddle through.
Location: Canoe & Kayak Taranaki – 468 Saint Aubyn Street, approximately 2.5km (1.5 miles) from New Plymouth city centre.
14. 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. For restaurant and cafe recommendations, head to The Foodie Guide to New Plymouth.
Location: New Plymouth city centre.