How to Plan a Trip to New Plymouth on a Budget
This artsy off-the-beaten-track city in the North Island often offers some of the most memorable experiences in New Zealand! That’s mainly because New Plymouth is so unknown that those who take the time to explore its sandy shores to the slopes of the cone-shaped Mt Taranaki volcano are taken away by its diversity in landscapes and culture.
The first thing you need to know about planning a trip to New Plymouth on a budget is that it’s extremely easy. Most attractions in and around the city are free, while short road trips will get you to see breathtaking gardens and the magnificent forest of the Egmont National Park. New Plymouth is also packed with museums and art galleries to inspire, giving you more of a taste of the New Zealand culture.
So, see just how easy it is to plan a trip to the city on the cheap with this budget travel guide to New Plymouth.
Budget Tips for New Plymouth
- Fill up your itinerary with the New Plymouth free and cheap things to do
- Stay in budget accommodation like hostels, motels and holiday parks
- Stay in self-catering accommodation so you can make your own meals and save money on food
- Look out for accommodation that offers free surfboard and bike hire if you plan to do any of these activities
- If you’re using the public buses, remember to stick out your hand when the bus approaches – New Plymouth’s buses are not the most reliable.
For more general advice, check out the 11 Ways to Save Money When Backpacking in New Zealand.
Free Activities in New Plymouth
The beauty of New Plymouth, aside from its beaches and views of Mt Taranaki, is that almost all of the city’s highlight are free! For instance, the regional museum, Puke Ariki, has free entry, containing a wealth of ongoing and temporary exhibitions on Taranaki’s people, nature and volcano. See the skeleton of the now-extinct giant moa bird, crawl through the volcanic tunnels of Mt Taranaki and see Maori and European relics from the past.
If outdoor adventures are more your style, then hit one of the many walks around New Plymouth! In the city centre is the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway, 12.7km (8 miles) of a bike-, wheelchair- and stroller-friendly walkway incorporating artistic sculptures, beaches, rock pools and the magnificent Te Rewa Rewa Bridge. If you’re willing to travel further out, however, head to the northern Egmont National Park with five short walks among the magnificent “goblin forest”. Check out more walks in 8 Wonderful Walks in New Plymouth and 6 Hikes You Have to Do in Egmont National Park.
New Plymouth is also home to some of the most picturesque gardens in the country, from the city centre Pukekura Park to the historic homestead gardens of Tupare. Learn all about them in the 10 Must-See Parks & Gardens in Taranaki.
And for epic views and a fun natural attraction in itself, climb the remnants of an ancient volcanic crater at Paritutu Rock. It’s a steep scramble with chains to hold onto as you make your way up to the top, but the reward is worth it with magnificent 360-degree views of New Plymouth, Mt Taranaki, Back Beach and the Tasman Sea.
For more fun free attractions, check out the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in New Plymouth.
Cheap Activities in New Plymouth
There are a few more things worth doing on a budget trip to New Plymouth that will cost you just a little. The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery / Len Lye Centre is a must-visit, contained within a majestic mirrored building in the city centre. For around NZ$15, browse the contemporary New Zealand and Pacific art displayed in grand spaces, with kinetic sculptures from Len Lye and more.
More affordable activities include hitting the famous surf waves of New Plymouth. While some hostels offer free surfboard hire, watersports shops, like the Beach Street Surf Shop at Fitzroy Beach, hires out boards and wetsuits for around NZ$25 an hour. Alternatively, explore the coast on a SUP board or kayak for around NZ$15-$30 an hour with Chaddy’s Charter Hire or ride the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway by bike for around NZ$10 an hour.
For cheap alternatives, check out the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in New Plymouth.
Cheap Eats in New Plymouth
Complete your budget getaway to New Plymouth with experiencing the buzzing ambience and local flavours of the city’s cafes and restaurants.
Experience New Plymouth’s international cafe culture at some of the affordable cafes like the Three Pillars Cafe (178 Devon Street East) specialising in meat and dairy-free food, Cafe Turquoise (81 Devon Street West) serving Turkish cuisine, the Ruby Cafe (68 Govett Avenue) offering Japanese-style goodies, The Arizona (91 Devon Street West) with their hearty American food, and Art Cafe (Top Town Complex, 119-125 Devon Street East) for their seriously good fudge and sweet treats.
Other cheap eats you might want to try include Momo Sushi (116 Devon Street West), the buffet at Sun World Chinese Restaurant (250 Devon Street East), Tesoro (211a Devon Street East) and ice cream from the Iona Dairy (204 St Aubyn Street).
For more food recommendations, check out The Foodie Guide to New Plymouth.