© NZPocketGuide.com
© NZPocketGuide.com

New Plymouth Walkabout: Discovering The City’s Gems

© NZPocketGuide.com

45 Days on the Road

How did we underestimate this city? When you see New Plymouth on the map, you can only assume it’s a farming community that happens to be near an effing huge volcano. We did not expect to find a city where you can actually go sight-seeing between the buildings. After going between the Coastal Walkway with huge kinetic sculptures to visiting a community art gallery and recording an ad on the radio, we have had glimpses of huge murals painted on the side of buildings and rotating sculptures on the the side of the road. It is clear that we just need an afternoon of doing a New Plymouth Walkabout in the city and seeing what we discover.

Robin’s bus mishap #2

Before we have a relaxing day in the city, we have a few tasks to do. Robin is keen to get some more rust treatment to the bottom of our campervan (like you do). He takes it to our favourite place type of workshop in New Zealand, a panel beater. (Before this trip, we didn’t know what a panel beater was. Now, whenever we bring up Google Maps, it automatically shows us to the nearest panel beater). The panel beater will have the campervan for the next day so Robin needs to take the bus to his meeting to see Vanessa, who we met in Tangarakau the other day during our mission to Fossil Canyon. He will be taking some photos of her saddle shop for her and organising when to join them on their dairy farm in the next few days. However, Robin has another bus mishap, when the bus driver forgets to tell him when his stop is… So he ends up walking half an hour back to the saddle shop. Bad times. Meanwhile, Laura is chilling at the hostel calling he mum on Whatsapp (thanks to the free WiFi at Ducks & Drakes), getting on with some work, and admittedly, having a nap. (Don’t judge!)

Soggy street map

The reunion of a century occurs at lunch when Robin returns to the hostel. (Ok, that’s an overstatement). We grab a city map, step outside and… it starts raining. What used to be a paper map now becomes paper mache, yet Robin still insists on using it. (For what reason, we don’t know. You don’t need a map for a walkabout).

First thing we notice is how good the lunch deals are in various cafes and pubs in New Plymouth! $10 lunches everywhere, whether it’s Indian food, burgers and fries, pub meals, bubble waffles…


New Plymouth’s street art

Another thing, there are HEAPS of spray-painted murals filling entire walls and building-sides all over New Plymouth! We can’t even begin to name them all, but our favourites include a colour tui bird next to a wooden building, a black and white Mt Taranaki in a car park, a pop-art “no parking” portrait on a garage… and the list goes on.

A guy sees us taking photos of all the street art and says: “Do you know why all of this art is here?” We have a feeling he is going to tell us. The guy just happens to be an event organiser from the Get Up Festival, an annual urban street art festival where artists do live paintings across the CBD. The festival usually happens during the Taranaki Anniversary (see more in Public Holidays in New Zealand). So the city’s art is likely to completely change and grow over the years!

A few locals we have met in New Plymouth have fully recommended Pukekura Park, which is a quick walk from the CBD. Along the way we notice a huge rotating metal sculpture that looks like a spine, as well as a bell tower overlooking the mirrored building of the Govett-Brewster Gallery, (which we are going to have a look inside tomorrow).

A waterfall named Waterfall

White windmill sculptures line the street leading up to Pukekura Park, which at first appears to be a large grassy sports stadium of some sorts, similar to a Roman theatre style. There’s an entrance to a forested area with a sign to various bushwalks and points-of-interest within the park. There’s a sign for a waterfall. Do you want to see a waterfall? We want to see a waterfall.

The waterfall named “Waterfall” overlooks a large lake full of ducks. The red bridge crossing the lake completes the look of the picturesque park. From that point, we sort wander aimlessly around the park, discovering things as we go, such as a water wheel, flower gardens (with minimal flowers in bloom this winter season but we do find an orange flower that’s pleasing to the eye), and some lookouts over the park’s lakes. Who would have thought that this park was within a city?

When we’ve had a few days of full-on activities, trying to pack as much as we can into our day, we have really welcomed an afternoon of wandering around. New Plymouth is a great place to do that with or without a soggy paper map that has now completely fallen apart.

Tomorrow, we’re checking out what’s within the mirrored walls of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. See you then!

The waterfall is much prettier than we are

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Plus, we’ll be posting our most arty pictures on Instagram, in true New Plymouth style!

See you tomorrow!