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10 reasons to visit New Plymouth

Women's Weekly logo Women's Weekly 13/02/2017

Taranaki was named the second best region in the world by Lonely Planet in 2016.

But despite this, when I (a relative newcomer to New Zealand) announced I’d be heading there for a long weekend in January, many of my friends had bemused reactions.

“It’s not really where I’d choose for a getaway,” one reacted, while another thought I was just another misguided traveller.

The often overlooked region, that counts New Plymouth as its main city, apparently isn’t on the ‘traditional tourist trail,’ like Queenstown and Wellington might be, and is renowned for brutal west coast weather.

Not exactly synonymous with the perfect holiday destination, maybe, but this reputation does it a disservice.

View of Mt Egmont © Provided by Bauer Media Group (NZ) LP View of Mt Egmont

View of Mt Egmont

After spending four days in the beautiful Taranaki region, I’d totally fallen for the place. And being an adopted Jaffa, couldn’t believe the ease at which you could drive around/get a table/find a patch of beach with no one on. Oh, and the people couldn't have been more helpful either.

Top ten of New Plymouth:

Coastal Walkway

Flying in at 7am, we headed straight to the coast to take in the New Plymouth coastal walkway, a 10km track that takes in views of Mt Egmont, the infamous wind wand and the rugged coastline. Just remember the sunblock!

Wilkies Pools

The first hike on my list was up to Wilkie’s Pools. An easy, half hour track took us up into the heart of Mt Egmont park, until we came upon crystal clear, aquamarine pools, perfect for plunging. Despite being pretty chilly, it’s hard to resist the allure of these beautiful swimming holes – just maybe don’t stay in too long.

Wilkies Pools © Provided by Bauer Media Group (NZ) LP Wilkies Pools

Wilkies Pools

Lake Mangamahoe

Here’s where you get that classic reflection shot of Mt Egmont. A circular walk that’s perfect for anyone of moderate fitness levels, this is definitely worth the hike.

Pukekura Park

Right in the city lies the impressive Pukekura Park, 52 hectares of native and exotic plants, walking trails, and water features. The home of the annual WOMAD festival, this is also great to catch during the festival of lights at the start of summer.

Take in the street art

If Len Lye isn’t your thing (and to be honest, his kinetic art was not for me) take a wander down Egmont and the surrounding streets in the centre of town. There’s some pretty impressive street art and buildings that are perfect for taking holiday snaps.

Street art adorns New Plymouth's walls © Provided by Bauer Media Group (NZ) LP Street art adorns New Plymouth's walls

Street art adorns New Plymouth's walls

Visit Federal Store for lunch

Slightly further out of town that the other popular cafes often listed online, this quirky café has a distinctly retro vibe, with everything from the waitresses to the furniture channelling ‘50s chic. On top of this, the food and drink is fantastic, and is best enjoyed in one of their trademark booths.

Drive along Surf highway 45

This 105km stretch along the west coast throws out some pretty impressive beaches. Taking a picnic down and having a wee nap in the car after, as the waves crashed outside was definitely one of the trip highlights.

Drink at Snug Lounge and Prohibition

There are plenty of drinking options in New Plymouth, but out personal favourites were Snug and Prohibition. Snug is, as its name would suggest, perfect for cold and wet afternoons when you just want to feel cosy (plus, great Japanese food), while Prohibition is decidedly cool with its tattoo design wall hangings and killer cocktails.

Warm up at Taranaki mineral pools

On our final day in New Plymouth, wet and chilly weather left us feeling a little worse for wear. We headed to Taranaki Mineral Pools, where mineral water straight from the ground promises to cure you of all your aches and pains. A private bath for two is reasonably priced and comes with sauna, so is the perfect place to warm up on a windy day.

Bach on Breakwater for ocean views

With great cabinet food and restaurant menu, we made this out final stop on the way back to New Plymouth airfield. With pretty views of the Sugar Loaf Islands and the Port – this is great in all weather.

© Provided by Bauer Media Group (NZ) LP

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