How to Plan the Best Trip to New Plymouth
Travel along the rugged west coast of New Zealand’s North Island and you’ll come across a city that takes many by surprise – not only for its art scene and breathtakingly beautiful gardens but for all of this being nestled between black sandy shores and the iconic volcanic cone of Mt Taranaki. It takes just 30 minutes to make your way from the surf beaches of the city to the slopes of Mt Taranaki where the untamed forest is so fairytale-like that it’s often referred to as the “goblin forest”. Although surrounded by the nature that New Zealand is famous for, New Plymouth is still a small but vibrant cosmopolitan city with fabulous hotels, creative eateries and art spaces.
Plan your trip to Taranaki according to your unique travel style with this complete travel guide to New Plymouth.
Common Questions About New Plymouth
Let’s cut to the chase; what are the most common questions travellers have about visiting New Plymouth?
Is New Plymouth Worth Visiting?
Yes – if you have the time to do the detour off the main tourist trail, New Plymouth and Taranaki are well worth the excursion thanks to its vibrant mix of city culture and the Egmont National Park on its doorstep.
What is New Plymouth Most Known For?
New Plymouth is known for its iconic natural surroundings of the volcanic cone of Mt Taranaki and the Tasman Sea. Always a hot topic for debate, New Plymouth is also known for its offshore rigs extracting natural gas and oil.
Where is New Plymouth Located?
What is the Weather Usually Like in New Plymouth?
The daily average temperature is 13.6°C/56.6°F, while the yearly average rainfall is 1,609mm/63.3″. Find out more in What is the Weather Like in New Zealand?
How Do You Get to New Plymouth?
New Plymouth is well connected to the rest of New Zealand by road, located just off State Highway 3. The closest international airport is Auckland Airport (4h20mins drive) with plenty of car rental options available, as well as domestic flights to New Plymouth Airport. New Plymouth is also on the main national bus route, which you can find more information about in Bus Networks in New Zealand.
How Many Days Do You Need in New Plymouth?
You need at least 2-3 days (or a long weekend) to make the most of New Plymouth but you can easily spend 5-7 days with the amount to do here.
What to Do in New Plymouth
From the slopes of Mt Taranaki to the black-sand shores, New Plymouth offers an array of exciting experiences in exciting landscapes. It’s easy to get your outdoors fix between hiking in the Egmont National Park or surfing at Fitzroy Beach. That’s not to say that you don’t have captivating city experiences, with striking art galleries, museums and gardens to admire.
The Top Experiences in New Plymouth
What are the must-dos? Here are some of the New Plymouth highlights:
- Get amazing views from Paritutu Rock
- Walk or cycle the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway
- Surf, swim or feel your toes in the sand at Fitzroy Beach or Back Beach
- Explore the forest and volcanic slopes of Mt Taranaki from the North Egmont Visitor Centre
- Take a stroll around Pukekura Park
- Race on the luge tracks, play mini golf and admire cars at the Hillsborough Car Museum
- Enjoy a day trip down Surf Highway 45 or one of the other Best Day Trips from New Plymouth…
… And the list continues over in our 15 Best Things to Do in New Plymouth.
Rainy Day Activities
Admittedly, New Plymouth is often in the firing line for wet weather, so be sure to have a rainy day backup with these options:
- Visit the Puke Ariki Museum
- See the latest exhibitions at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery / Len Lye Centre
- Do a brewery tour of Mike’s Brewery & Bistro or Shining Peak Brewery.
Need more inspiration? Check out the 11 Things to Do in New Plymouth on a Rainy Day.
Where to Stay in New Plymouth
Other than the accommodations we recommend on the righthand side of this complete travel guide to New Plymouth (or at the bottom, if you’re on mobile), we have compiled entire lists of places to stay based on price, what’s best for families or a couples’ getaway, as well as premium stays. What’s more, each list is compiled by real writers; not some algorithm.
New Plymouth for Budget Travellers
Travellers on a budget will certainly be rewarded for getting off the beaten track to visit New Plymouth. In a city not so focussed on obtaining the tourist dollar, most of the attractions are either free or at least very affordable. Highlights include award-winning art galleries, stunning black sand beaches, picturesque public gardens and adventures in the Egmont National Park where the walking trails are simply the way to enjoy the sights. You’ll find the perfect balance of cosmopolitan lifestyle and nature in and around New Plymouth. Find out more in The Guide to New Plymouth on a Budget.
Things to Do in New Plymouth on a Budget
- Walk the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway
- Visit the Puke Ariki museum
- Spend a day exploring Pukekura Park
- Climb Paritutu Rock to enjoy the beach and mountain views
- Do some surfing at New Plymouth’s beaches.
For more ideas, just head to 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in New Plymouth.
Budget Accommodation in New Plymouth
On top of the affordable experience, New Plymouth has some fantastic budget accommodations. Stay in homely hostels, holiday parks by the beach or one of the many motels for a true home-away-from-home experience. Check out our top picks in the 10 Best Budget Accommodations in New Plymouth.
New Plymouth for Luxury Travellers
Just the sheer laidback and authentic vibe of the small city of New Plymouth is a luxury, while the views of Mt Taranaki and the Tasman Sea enhance the experience. There are premium ways to explore New Plymouth’s diverse landscapes, from guided hiking tours to helicopter flights. It’s also easy to dive into the local culture with unique art galleries like the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, while the surrounding golf courses offer stunning views to go along with this favourite Kiwi pastime. Start planning a premium getaway with The Luxury Guide to New Plymouth.
Luxury Activities in New Plymouth
- Take a guided hike of the magnificent Egmont National Park with Top Guides
- Fly over Mt Taranaki or to a remote waterfall with Precision Helicopters
- Do a curator’s tour of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery / Len Lye Centre
- Indulge in high tea at Tupare Historic Homestead and Gardens
- Tee off at one of the many golf courses around New Plymouth.
For elaboration on each experience and more, browse the 7 Luxury Activities in New Plymouth.
Luxury Accommodation in New Plymouth
Despite being a small city, New Plymouth has a spectacular array of hotels, from the luxury boutique Nice Hotel to premium international chains like Novotel New Plymouth Hobson. You’ll also find the odd boutique B&B experience, such as at Tivoli Homestay, as well as a luxury stay on a vineyard. Compare your options in the 10 Best Luxury Accommodations in New Plymouth.
New Plymouth for Families
One of the most affordable destinations in New Zealand’s for families, mum and dad don’t need to worry about going over budget. Most of the main attractions in New Plymouth are free, with the highlights being the sights, rather than the things to do. See the stunning “goblin forest” of the Egmont National Park, see the beautiful beaches along the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway, and see the amazing street art around the city. Families looking for something a bit more, however, will find kayaking tours, museums and farm park visits too. Plan your next family getaway with The Guide to New Plymouth for Families.
Family-Friendly Activities in New Plymouth
- Do the child-friendly walks of the Egmont National Park
- Go on a kayaking trip on the Waitara River
- Build sandcastles at Fitzroy or Back Beach
- Play mini golf and race on the luge at the Hillsborough Car Museum
- Feed the animals at Stoney Oaks Wildlife Park.
For more information on each experience, check out the 10 Things to Do in New Plymouth with Kids.
Family Accommodation in New Plymouth
From affordable and fun-filled holiday parks to lavish hotels, and all the motels and family rooms in hostels in between, New Plymouth offers a great range of accommodations for families. Check out the 10 Best Family Accommodation in New Plymouth for our top recommendations.
New Plymouth for Couples
Whatever scene screams romance to you, New Plymouth is sure to have it. Picturesque rhododendron gardens: check! Sweeping beaches: check! Untamed natural wilderness: check! Even a cone-shaped volcano is in the mix! Enjoy the scenery with intimate walks on uncrowded trails or up the excitement with kayaking trips or horse trekking. When the day starts to draw to a close, treat your loved one to a romantic night out at New Plymouth’s tapas bars and fine dining restaurants, then retreat to one of the lavish hotels or boutique accommodations. Plan a honeymoon or a romantic getaway with The Honeymoon & Romantic Getaway Guide to New Plymouth.
Romantic Things to Do in New Plymouth
- Visit New Plymouth’s romantic gardens
- Indulge in a mineral hot pool at the Taranaki Thermal Spa
- Head out horse riding with Horse Trek’n Taranaki
- Team up in a double kayak to paddle to the Sugar Loaf Islands
- Take a picnic to Lake Mangamahoe.
For more information on each activity and others, see the 10 Most Romantic Things to Do in New Plymouth for Couples.
Romantic Accommodation in New Plymouth
While luxurious hotel rooms are the most abundant option for couples who may be celebrating a special occasion, there is the odd boutique B&B or cottage-style accommodation to set the right tone for a romantic getaway. Check out our top picks in the 5 Best Romantic Accommodations in New Plymouth.
New Plymouth for Foodies
Home to one of the original craft breweries of New Zealand, as well as a winery on the coast making indulgent wines despite the extreme conditions, New Plymouth is certainly a unique and interesting destination for foodies. While there are fantastic farmers’ market and high tea experiences to be had, the restaurants in New Plymouth alone will make foodies want to stay awhile. Bistro dining on contemporary cuisine to creative tapas restaurants to fin-filled American-style diners, New Plymouth offers real variety and memorable dining experiences. Find out more in The Food Guide to New Plymouth: Places to Eat & Food Tours.
Food Tours and Experiences in New Plymouth
- Taste the fudge of Wisteria Gourmet Fudge in Pukekura Park
- Do a brewery tour of the Shining Peak Brewery
- Have an artisanry experience at the Farmers Market Taranaki
- Do a wine tasting at the Okurukuru Winery
- Enjoy high tea in the historic Tupera house and gardens.
For more information on these activities, check out the 7 Best Foodie Experiences in New Plymouth.
Where to Eat in New Plymouth
- Koi Lounge (85 Devon St West Central)
- Social Kitchen (40 Powderham Street)
- Deluxe Diner (36 Leach Street)
- Elixir Cafe (117 Devon Street East)
- Little Fed (53 Tukapa Street)
Foodie Accommodation in New Plymouth
Whether you want to stay in a hotel with a fabulous restaurant or have your own kitchen facilities to experiment with local produce, there’s accommodation to suit in New Plymouth. Just take a look at the 10 Best Accommodations in New Plymouth for Foodies for ideas.
More About New Plymouth
That’s it for our complete travel guide to New Plymouth but by no means the end of our New Plymouth travel tips! Check out the following guides for more advice on what to do in the region:
- 10 Best Galleries & Museums in New Plymouth
- 8 Wonderful Walks in New Plymouth
- 10 Best Things to Do in Stratford
- 5 Best Things to Do in Opunake
- 8 Best Things to Do in Eltham
- 6 Best Things in Do in Patea
- 5 Best Things to Do in Manaia
- 6 Towns You Can’t Miss in South Taranaki
Finally, plan more of your North Island trip using the North Island in Two Weeks: Road Trip Itinerary or North Island in One Week: Road Trip Itinerary. You’ll also find more advice for planning an epic NZ trip in The Best Travel Guide to New Zealand.