New Plymouth - A New Experience

New Plymouth is the port and main city of the Taranaki region on New Zealand's North Island. Its position on the west coast of the island allows it to enjoy a coastal setting that is one of the most spectacular in the country. The region is known for its black sand surfing beaches and its abundance of glorious parks and gardens, which give it a natural ambience that draws in visitors from all over the world.

The city of New Plymouth was named after Plymouth, which is in Devon, England. This is where the first English settlers came from and therefore is a lasting reminder of the region's colonial days. The city is popular as it is a coastal city but still within a 30 minute drive from the mountains. It is the perfect place for a campervan New Zealand holiday because there are so many surrounding areas to explore that you really do need your own vehicle.

Among many of the city's attractions is Pukekura Park. This is undoubtedly the main highlight in the area, and offers something for all ages. It is often regarded as the jewel of New Plymouth's crown and is located right in the heart of the city. This unique and interesting garden contains a diverse range of landscapes and is home to exotic plant collections, formal gardens, lakes and walking trails through native bush. Highlights of the park include The Gables, Mishima Gate, Kunming Garden and the row boats. No matter what aspect of nature you enjoy, you are sure to find something here that will capture your eye's attention!

Garden settings are not all that Pukekura Park has to offer! In it you will also find Brooklands Zoo, a family zoo that is fun for all ages. This animal lover's paradise is home to farmyard animals, the endangered red panda, otters, lemurs and the capuchin and cotton top tamarin monkeys. These animals are in an interactive environment that will allow you to discover their fascinating habits and adorable features in ways that would be impossible anywhere else. There is easy parking available and with free entry, you can't ask for a better day out for the whole family!

If you venture out of the city of New Plymouth itself, you will discover breathtaking scenery and a simply stunning drive. You will eventually come across the Egmont National Park, which is home to Mount Taranaki, more often referred to as Mount Egmont. This picturesque mountain is excellent for climbing, skiing, tramping and photography, with the sight of it alone simply leaving you awe stricken. This is a mountain that fights, loves and mourns, so be careful and plan well if you do attempt to climb it. As you will have your campervan in the park, you may choose to stay in one of the conservation parks so that you can take your time to explore this natural wonderland. The Egmont National Park is a true highlight of the North Island, and its close proximity to New Plymouth makes it so easy for you to explore at length.

For further exploration of the stunning scenery in New Plymouth, I suggest embarking on one or some of the area's many walkways. The most stunning of these is the circuit around Lake Mangamahoe. This trek will take you on a journey around the lapping waters of the lake and through the production forest that surrounds it. You will be led to impressive lookouts that will give you stunning views of the lake and native forest. You can enjoy a picnic at one of the designated picnic areas or simply find your own piece of paradise to enjoy a light meal. As this walkway is located just 10 kilometres from the centre of New Plymouth, it makes for the perfect morning or afternoon out.

Another stunning walkway of the area is the Coastal Walkway, which is located right in the city. This award-winning 7 kilometre path is located right on the edge of the city on the shores of the Tasman Sea. This sea edge promenade will take you almost the entire length of the city. All the while you enjoy the calm crystal clear waters of the ocean and soak up the fresh, crisp sea breeze. This is the perfect opportunity to stretch your legs and explore the highlights of this amazing city.

New Plymouth has such a laid-back coastal atmosphere that once you visit you will never want to return back to reality. It is the perfect place to base yourself for exploration of the Taranaki region as it places you right at the centre of everything!

Christine Barton


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