When I first arrived in New Plymouth I didn´t like it. It was too much of the same and on the first look just like any other bigger city I had visited in New Zealand. But after staying here for four weeks I found some spots I really loved and can recommend to everyone who´s planning on visiting New Plymouth. For starters, it might be good to know that most of these are best to reach by car but there are taxis available in the city.
I´ve been to this Lake for two times now and both have been great. You drive into this almost different world, where little people are and even lesser cars. As soon as you cross the entry you have trees all around you and then the lake right next to the road. There is one bigger car park where you can start some walkways from. Personally, I like to park just on the road on the grass and use one of the many picknick tables to have lunch. No matter where you sit you have a great view of the lake and, depending on where you´re sitting, even Mount Taranaki. For an even better view of the Mountain, you can follow the short walkway on top of the hill to see directly on it. If you like a relaxed day, with a great view and quiet surroundings this is your spot!
This one is for the more active people or the youngster who want the perfect Instagram picture. Paritutu Rock looks quite small compared to other Hills or Mountains but trying to walk up to the top you soon realize that it isn´t an easy climb. And it really is a climb. For the first ten minutes you walk up some stairs but after that, you are greeted with rocks that you need to try and climb up to reach the top. There isn´t much security so if you have trouble hiking or freight of heights, maybe don´t try it. But once on top (maybe another ten minutes to climb) you have a great view and can take that perfect selfie with the New Zealand flag. We did!
Mount Taranaki is a still active volcano. Volcanologists are sure that Taranaki is just “sleeping” but could break out again. It´s still a favorite thing to do for many people to take one of the many hikes. There are many walkways you can take to climb the 2518m high mountain. We drove up to the information center (use Dawson Falls for your GPS) and followed the Stratford Plateau signs. It was a 3-hour hike but totally manageable and probably one of the easier once on Mount Taranaki. You mostly walked through bush and forest and therefore are more or less safe from the sun. On your way back you cross the Wilkies Pools where you can cool down and go for a swim in cold alpine water. Don´t forget to wear sturdy footwear, bring water and something to eat and stay safe with sunscreen! If you want to you could always take the day hikes and walk all the way up to the top. But for that, you really should know what you´re doing. It´s getting rough the further up you get and the weather changes really quick. There are huts on the way so you have something safe to stay the night.
Not only is this a nice and quiet beach to take a swim or enjoy a beach day, you also have a fantastic view of the sunset. The sun is setting right into the ocean and it´s probably the best spot to watch it in New Plymouth. You can either park on the carpark and watch with many others on the grass or benches (bring some snacks and make it an Event) or park your car a bit further up the road and have an even better view onto the sun. If you´re lucky and there are no clouds you can witness not only the setting of the sun but also the many colors the sky will have. It´s a really beautiful spot to end your day. By the way, Back Beach is right next to Paritutu Rock so either climb up and maybe see even more, or make it a day trip! Climb Paritutu Rock, go for a swim afterward and see the sunset with some dinner afterward. This spot makes for a great summer day!
This Park is really nice on his own. You can take a relaxed walk around the sea and stop for a break on one of the many benches whenever you feel like it. For the hot days, there´s also a coffee house where you can not only get drinks but also ice cream. Once a year the Festival of Lights lights up the park in colorful lights, art projects, and music. The Festival is on for a couple weeks and has special events on specific days, like parades. If you have kids, or just like animals and are on a budget you can visit the free zoo that is located in the park. It isn´t very big but has some farm animals, bees, parrots, and monkeys. There´s also a small playground.
For a sunny day when you want to get some movement in your day but don´t hike in the heat, the coastal walkway might be for you. You can walk or hire a bike and just go. It´s right next to the beach on a wheelchair-friendly walkway so it´s really easy to walk. You can start in the City of New Plymouth and walk all the way to Te Rewa Rewa Bridge (another nice spot to spend the day and have a good view of Mount Taranaki). It´s especially nice because you´re never far from the actual city and can stop whenever you want. That makes it a good activity for the cloudy, almost rainy days. No matter when it starts to rain it´s not far back to the car, hostel or hotel. The part of the ocean you´re walking past is really just to do that – walk by, you can´t take a swim but once you arrive at Te Rewa Rewa Bridge you have the opportunity to cool off in safe water.