Self Drive New Plymouth | Avis Car Rental

New Plymouth Self Drive Holiday

With the ever-present views of Mt Taranaki, New Plymouth is one of the most beautiful of New Zealand's cities. A centre for art and culture, resplendent with ancient Maori history and more recently a burgeoning oil and gas exploration industry, this port city and agricultural powerhouse is in many ways a microcosm of all things great about New Zealand's past and multi-cultural future.





Puke Ariki Museum

This world-class museum and heritage centre tells the story of Taranaki's past, present and future. Situated on an historic Pa (a Maori hill fortress), Puke Ariki pulls together the streams of Maori culture, War Memorial, regional museum and a library to present a community resource that is always evolving and interactive. It doesn't just seek to present the past but helps to shape the future of Taranaki. Of special interest is the story of the Mountain - known as Egmont to European settlers, Taranaki to Maori - and today's multi-cultural locals.

Puke Ariki Museum Website


Govett-Brewster Gallery - Len Lye Exhibition

The Govett-Brewster Gallery is famous as a leading contemporary art gallery in New Zealand. It is home to the Len Lye Collection. Lye was a pioneering artist, making films without cameras and kinetic sculptures that broke new ground internationally. The gallery was set up to be a leader and the directors are famous for fostering shows that are at the leading edge of installation and sensory art.

Govett-Brewster Website


Pukekura Park

No visit to New Plymouth is complete without a visit to this garden of national significance. Pukekura Park features native plants, lakes, walks, the historic Gables, a lush fernery and even a natural amphitheatre. If you are in town mid-December through mid-February you'll be lucky enough to see the Festival of Lights. With events, rowboats and magnificently lit trees, rotundas and statues the park comes alive, as does the city.

New Plymouth DC Website



Coastal Walkway

There are a number of spots where you can get onto the Coastal Walkway, but it is best if you head the couple of kilometres east and begin the walk from Hickford Park. There is plenty of parking to be found. From there you can venture along through pastoral land to meet the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge and reserve. The 80m bridge is one of the award winning features of the walk, designed to mimic the breaking of a wave or perhaps a whale's skeleton. The entire walkway is 10km and a wonderful way to see the wild west coast. If you start from the east you will finish to the west of the city, near the Taranaki Port. If you see nothing else on the walk make sure you get to the 40m high Len Lye Wind Wand statue, to be found not far from the centre near the CBD.

New Plymouth DC Website


Forgotten Highway

The forgotten highway is a driver's paradise, a little travelled road that takes you through a remote series of once prosperous but now abandoned settlements, of both European and Maori origin. It is scenic - with views from the top and bottom of mountain passes - and challenging, with step inclines, windy roads, tight corners, one way stretches, tunnels and fantastic straights. Be sure to stop at Whangamomona - a settlement so remote that it calls itself a republic with its own passport available at the pub. Stop there for lunch. The drive can be started from Stratford or Taumaranui and do be sure to fill the tank up before you head off as there is isn't a petrol station for the whole 150km highway.


Surf Highway

The Surf Highway 45 is one of New Zealand's great drives. Heading south from New Plymouth you follow the coast right around the point, with the ocean on one side and the mountain on the other. The beaches along this stretch are legendary. Oakaru is a surfing mecca and just fifteen minutes down the road from New Plymouth. You can attend a surfing school here during summer and be ready to tackle breaks like Stent Road, The Dump and the Kumura Patch along the Highway. Take care with all beaches and if you are learning to surf try starting at Fitzroy Beach. It is patrolled in summer and is the start of your journey, still in the city of New Plymouth.

Venture Taranaki Website



Egmont National Park

The summit of Mt Taranaki is a walk that is best left to the experts. Only experienced trampers are advised to attempt the climb, and only in good weather. But it would be a great shame if you let that stop you visiting the rest of Egmont National Park. It has a wonderful array of walking tracks for all fitness levels, with waterfalls and lush rainforest very accessible. And even if you may not be able to head up Mt Taranaki you'll have an up close view of the majesty.

Dept. of Conservation Website


Taranaki Rhododendron and Garden Festival

For more than 20 years Taranaki has thrown a great Rhododendron and Garden festival, so good in fact that it is now known as a Garden Spectacular. This is a chance to visit some of the impressive and usually off-limits private gardens in the region. A range of styles is represented - from the formal, to the floral to the vegetable! This is a true gardener's paradise so if you have green thumbs, or would like to, be sure to be in town around the end of October.

Garden Spectacular Website


Parihaka International Peace Festival

When you think of passive resistance, you might think of Mahatma Gandhi in India or Martin Luther King in America. But many years before, in the Taranaki of the 1860s, 70s and 80s two visionary leaders - Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi - were preaching and practicing non-violent civil disobedience in the face of unjust laws, land confiscation, violence and imprisonment. Today these pioneers are celebrated in the Parihaka International Peace Festival that takes place in January with local and international politically aware music and culture.



The world of music and dance are celebrated at WOMAD. This family-friendly festival is staged around the globe in places like the United Kingdom, Dubai and Australia where it is known as WOMADelaide. Musician Peter Gabriel helped start the event in the early 80s and today it is a thriving kaleidoscope of culture and art that has found a fitting home on the natural amphitheatre of the Brooklands Bowl. Be sure to book early, as WOMAD will sell-out. WOMAD takes place over three days around the middle of March most years.

WOMAD Website



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