Where can you climb to the summit of a dormant volcano in the morning and surf a world-class break in the afternoon? New Plymouth.
This prosperous and welcoming city sits at the foot of the sleeping giant of Mt. Taranaki (also called Mt. Egmont), the proud symbol of a diverse and exciting part of New Zealand. There is so much for the visitor to do here. The New Plymouth Visitor Centre in the Puke Ariki complex, St Aubyn Street, can suggest tours covering the high country, Tasman Sea coast, natural gas production, Maori culture, heritage trails and shopping facilities.
Start your sightseeing in the heart of the City with the acclaimed Pukekura Park, an oasis of landscaped gardens, bushwalks, ferneries, waterfalls, a kiosk cafè and a lake (with boats for hire). The summer Festival of the Lights transforms the park into a wondrous fairyland. Another haven of peace and delight, 20 km south of the city, is the Pukeiti Rhododendron Park internationally renowned for its fine collection of rhododendrons and azaleas. Local attractions include the Taranaki Museum with a worthwhile Maori collection and the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, which is well known for its kinetic sculptures and abstract animation on film.
New Plymouth’s beaches are renowned for surfing and windsurfing. The best locations are Oakura and Opunake to the west and Fitzroy and East End close to the City. A Coastal Walkway leads to the striking Paritutu Rock overlooking the Sugar Loaf Marine Reserve, which has New Zealand’s most northerly breeding colony of fur seals along with migrating humpback whales and dolphins.
Egmont National Park is the main visitor attraction in the area, offering tramping, climbing and skiing with three easy access points. North Egmont visitor centre is the closest to New Plymouth and leads to the summit route. Pembroke Road provides access from Stratford to Mountain House and the Manganui Ski Field. Further south Dawson Falls visitor centre gives access to climbing routes and local bushwalks.
Approached from any angle or vantage point Mt. Taranaki, New Zealand’s ‘most climbed’ mountain affords breathtaking views. Stay long enough, if you can, to see the snow-capped summit break clear of its cloud cover – a most memorable sight.