Named after the city that the early English settlers left behind, New Plymouth is Taranaki's only city and the centre of the Oil industry in New Zealand. Mt Egmont, now known as Mt Taranaki, is the nearby landmark that identifies so closely with the city.
The Maori established Koru Pa about 1000 AD, and it remains one of the best examples of early Maori living in Taranaki, while Puketakauere and Pukerangiora Pa are the remains of two sites of battles during the Maori Wars. Dating from the period of early European settlement, there are several houses that have survived. Richmond Cottage is close to the Puke Ariki Museum and dates from 1854 when it was the 'townhouse' owned by the same family as Hurworth Cottage, which can be visited. Typical of early settler's homes, it was in fact owned by Harry Atkinson, later Premier of New Zealand. Look for the graffiti dating from the NZ War era. Also dating from the Maori Wars, the Camphouse was originally built as military barracks, and later used for tourist accommodation. The Gables Colonial Hospital was opened in 1848, and also served as a Refuge for elderly men, and more recently, as an art gallery.
Beautiful in profile, Mt Taranaki (aka Mt Egmont) is about 120,000 years old and is considered dormant with the last eruption being about 1775. With a summit that is accessible to 'non-mountaineers, this mountain is the most climbed mountain in New Zealand. A more sedate track is the Pouakai Circuit, a 2-3 day trail that covers the lower slopes and features waterfalls and some of the most beautiful landscape of the Mt Egmont National Park. The New Plymouth Coastal Walkway is a popular 13 km trail suitable for trampers and cyclists, and featuring the eye-catching Te Rewa Rewa Bridge. What about climbing the Paritutu Rock for a wonderful view of the Sugar Loaf Islands off the Taranaki coast. Or discovering the black sands of Tongaporutu Beach, by taking a hike down the Whitecliffs Walkway, and viewing the Three Sisters and Elephant Rock formations.
A family-focused zoo at Brooklands is home to domestic animals as well as a number of monkeys, otters and meerkats. There are also a variety of birds and reptiles completes the entourage that will entertain the kids and give them a chance to learn more about animals. Another small zoo with a number of animals, including a Lion and several Tigers, can be found at Pouakai Zoo, and they offer activities such as petting and feeding throughout the day. Another fun outing for the kids is the Fun Ho Toy Museum which has over 3000 toys dating back as far as 1935. True Kiwiana, the Fun Ho toys have been popular in New Zealand for generations, and displayed are fire engines, tractors, planes, trucks, cars and other familiar toys. A slot car racetrack and a theatrette, and a sandpit all offer opportunities for the kids to have fun. If you are lucky there may be a toy-maker at work for you to watch.
As well as the better-known museums, New Plymouth has a number of lesser-known attractions that are fun to visit. A really unusual museum that can be found in New Plymouth is the Manutahi Taxidermy Museum, where a 3m Polar Bear can be viewed as well as many other interesting animals and birds. Rare and amazing animals including an entire zebra, both black and white Rhinos, and large Eagles and an emu down to the smallest birds. The Taranaki Country Music Hall of Fame in the small town of Manaia exhibits a collection of photographs of country music stars together with memorabilia from the industry, and a collection of agricultural items as well. On Thursday evenings and occasional Saturdays, visitors can join in musical sing-alongs. The Tawhiti Museum is a special place where realistic dioramas tell New Zealand's history, and life-size and miniature scenes are demonstrating routines of daily life in the past. See the Maori and the settlers, breaking in a new land and forming the world we know today.
One totally Taranaki unique activity is Dam Dropping. Using a kayak or a water sledge and dropping off a river dam- often the 5.5m hydroelectric dam near Normanby on the Waingongoro River. Contact Actionaki for more information, and see them also for more wild fun activities such as paintball, Clay shooting, Archery, and Golf Frisbee. Learn to surf at Tarawave Surf School. If you enjoy bowling, tenpin action can be found at Bowlarama, and they offer blacklight mini-golf as well as indoor games such as pool, and arcade games. Try Egmont Quads for a great outdoor adventure or for indoors, Naki Nitro Indoor Karts.
*Please note: Prices listed here are for reference only and it might change without notice. We recommend you call or visit the attraction's website for current pricing
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