Family Activities in New Plymouth
From the slopes of Mt Taranaki to the shores of Fitzroy Beach, there’s plenty of family activities in New Plymouth to enjoy! Ideal for families on a budget, New Plymouth’s museums, gardens, walks and natural attractions can be enjoyed for free or especially cheap. Those seeking an extra special family bonding experience might like to hit an exciting kayaking experience of the Waitara River, while others may prefer a self-guided adventure along the family-friendly walks of the northern Egmont National Park. Whatever you’re family’s style, budget or weather scenario, find an activity to suit in this list of things to do in New Plymouth with kids.
For more things to do in New Plymouth with kids and trip-planning advice, see The Guide to New Plymouth for Families.
1. Check Out the Exhibitions at the Puke Ariki Museum
A convenient location in the city centre providing hours of fun and is totally free, Puke Ariki is a good go-to for families. The regional museum of Taranaki always has something going on for the kids, whether it’s at their latest temporary exhibition or one of their ongoing displays. Crawl through the lava tunnels of Mt Taranaki, be mesmerised by the carvings and taonga (treasure) in the Maori exhibition and see interesting relics from the early European settlers in the “Taranaki Life” exhibition.
Location: 65 St Aubyn Street, New Plymouth city centre.
2. Explore and Play on the Amazing Playground at Pukekura Park
Another free highlight in the city is Pukekura Park. Aside from meandering the gardens with water features and lakes with ducks ready to be fed, there’s one of the most interesting playgrounds in New Zealand! Kids love playing on the creative play equipment, as well as controlling the water feature flowing from a waterwheel through a channel. Take a picnic or enjoy meals at the cafe found at the northern end of the lake.
Location: Access off Brooklands Park Drive and Liardet Street, New Plymouth city centre.
3. Walk or Cycle the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway
Spanning along the beaches and rock pools of the coast, the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway is another must for families! This sealed 12.7km (8-mile) walkway is stroller-friendly, bike-friendly and child-friendly and has multiple entry points to make the walk as long or as short as you wish. Highlights to hit include the playground near Kawaroa Park, the Wind Wand just off St Aubyn Street, and Te Rewa Rewa Bridge near Fitzroy Beach. See more free and affordable activities like this in the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in New Plymouth.
Location: So many access points! Just head to the coast of New Plymouth city centre between Ngamotu Beach and Tiromoana Crescent.
4. Do the Child-friendly Walks of the Egmont National Park
Explore the icon of the region, Mt Taranaki and the Egmont National Park, with one of the child-friendly walks in the area. One of the easiest to access from New Plymouth is the Ngatoro Loop Track, a 45-minute to an hour loop walk descending into what is known as the “goblin forest” with twisting and turning moss-covered trees that are sure to get the imaginations of the little ones running. Other walks include the Connett Loop Track (40min loop), Nature Walk (25min loop) and the Ambury Monument Walkway (10min one way). Find out more about these walks and others in the 6 Hikes You Have to Do in Egmont National Park.
Location: North Egmont Visitor Centre, North Egmont Road, approximately 13km (8 miles) from New Plymouth city centre.
5. Go on a Kayaking Trip on the Waitara River
Canoe & Kayak Taranaki offers two exciting kayaking tours for families. The best option for kids is the Waitara River Kayak Tour, which is a scenic paddle over the gentle grade two rapids of the lower Waitara River. The 3h30mins experience is suitable for ages six years and above if accompanied by an adult or 10 years in their own kayak. Alternatively, the kayaking company also offers a sea kayaking tour to the offshore Sugar Loaf Islands, which is more suitable for ages 11 and above and is dependent on the sea conditions.
Location: 468 St Aubyn Street, New Plymouth city centre.
6. Build Sandcastles at Fitzroy or Back Beach
New Plymouth has two fantastic beaches for families to enjoy walks, swimming, building sandcastles or whatever it is that you prefer to do at the beach. Fitzroy Beach is the most accessible from the city, found along the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway and also home to the Fitzroy Pool (Beach Street) ideal for younger children to cool off in the water safely in summer. Alternatively, Back Beach at the west end of the city is a picturesque black sand beach looking out to the Sugar Loaf Islands.
Location: Fitzroy Beach – Beach Road. Back Beach – Centennial Drive, New Plymouth city.
7. Check Out the Classic Toys at the Fun Ho! Toy Museum
Get the little ones a special souvenir to remember their trip to Taranaki by at the Fun Ho! Toy Museum. Located in Inglewood, this unique museum displays a wealth of classic toys that have been made on-site between 1935 and 1982. Interactive displays include a slot car track, sandpit, theatrette, machinery and much more. The museum is extremely affordable at less than NZ$5 for kids.
Location: 25 Rata Street, Inglewood, approximately 19km (12 miles) from New Plymouth city centre.
8. Feed the Animals at Stoney Oaks Wildlife Park
Something for the younger members of the family and animal-lovers alike, Stoney Oaks Wildlife Park is located just outside of Inglewood, making a good stop when travelling in or out of New Plymouth. The affordable farm park allows the little ones to meet an interesting range of farm animals, from miniature horses to rabbits. Bottles can be bought to feed the baby animals, while kids also love playing in the playground and treehouse. Note that the park has limited opening hours, typically Sundays only or daily in school holidays.
Location: 356 Kaimata Road, Inglewood, approximately 28km (17 miles) from New Plymouth city centre.
9. Bond as a Family at Bowlarama
If you find yourself in New Plymouth on a rainy day or are looking for a good evening activity, Bowlarama is an excellent option for families. Not only does the indoor activity centre have 16 tenpin bowling lanes, but it also has an 18-hole black-light mini golf course. Bumpers are available on the bowling lanes for kids just getting used to the sport, while “glow bowling” is a fun feature on Friday and Saturday evenings. The real glowing happens, however, on the mini golf course with fun and vivid challenges to enjoy. Check out more rainy day experiences like this in the 10 Things to Do in New Plymouth on a Rainy Day.
Location: 188 Devon Street West, New Plymouth city centre.
10. Discover the Gardens of Pukeiti and Tupare
Taranaki is full of stunning gardens which are ideal to take the family to. Some of the closest to New Plymouth are Pukeiti and Tupare. Pukeiti has something to see in all seasons, with the Kids Treehouse Trail (collected from the on-site Rainforest Centre) making for a fun self-guided activity for the kids to get the most out of their visit. Alternatively, Tupare offers breathtaking landscaped gardens to roam around on the grounds of a historic homestead. Find out more about these gardens and more 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.