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Cheap Car Hire New Plymouth Airport
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A rental car gives you the freedom and flexibility to make the most of your time exploring New Plymouth and surrounding areas. Here are a few of the many attractions around Taranaki you might like to consider checking out. The letters on the map match those on the tabs below, where you'll find information about each attraction. For more ideas, check out the New Plymouth Tourism website.
New Plymouth Coastal Walkway
Stretching for 10 km - nearly the length of the city itself - the New Plymouth coastal promenade is made for walking, cycling or skating. It is also suited to those who use mobility scooters; some are available for use for free from the Aquatic Centre, but it’s best to book ahead of time.
The walkway boasts generous views of the west coast and was designed without an edge specifically to suit the landscape. The curved sea wall offers protection from the waves, with the occasional pier to allow people to make the most of the open coast.
The New Plymouth coastal walkway starts at Hickford Park, weaving through bucolic farmland and passing the Waipu lagoons. It follows the coastline closely, beside the New Plymouth golf club, through to Te Rewa Rewa reserve.
The path crosses over the iconic Te Rewa Rewa bridge, with views through to Mt Taranaki. The bridge brings to mind a breaking wave and was named after a nearby pa site; it has won international awards for its design and engineering. The walkway then continues through to the beach and holiday park at Fitzroy, where you can surf or swim.
Coming into town, the New Plymouth coastal walkway takes in the Wind Wand, an iconic local sculpture of fibre glass. This 45 metre tall kinetic piece of art was designed by local artist Len Lye and has pride of place along the promenade. It’s hypnotic to watch as it sways in the wind, and glows red at night.
A variety of other public art pieces and carvings can also be seen along the walkway, which then carries on past the Aquatic Centre, Kawaroa Park and a playground. It finishes at the marina and Ngamotu Beach, where you can take a swim
Egmont National Park
There’s a multitude of landscapes to be found within Egmont National Park. Its prevailing feature is the peak of Mount Taranaki rising from the horizon, surrounded by wetlands, waterfalls, bush and forest. As you go higher, rimu and rata trees give way to totara and amahi, then melt into sub alpine shrubbery and rainforest. The 'Goblin Forest', on the central slopes of Taranaki, is so named for its gnarly and mossy trees.
Egmont National Park is easily accessible, with about a dozen individual entrances. A mass of varied walking tracks cater to all levels of hiking ability and experience. Many short walks are clustered around East Egmont and Dawson Falls. The top trails include the Goblin Forest day walk, a short voyage passing gurgling springs and waterfalls to the Wilkies Pools, a beautiful rocky spot formed by ancient lava flows. The two day Pouakai Circuit traverses the Ahukawakawa Swamp as well as what remains of the Pouakai volcano. Then there’s a 5 day walk that circles the mountain - the Around the Mountain circuit.
Looking to conquer the mountain itself? There’s a ski field on the eastern slopes of Taranaki. Scaling it on foot is possible but should only be undertaken in good weather by experienced hikers with appropriate gear. The climb takes a full day. The summit of Mt Taranaki is sacred to local Maori.
Mt Taranaki is over 100,000 years old, a dormant volcano that hasn’t erupted for a few centuries. According to mythology, once upon a time Taranaki lived alongside the other central plateau volcanoes (Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe). Taranaki fled west after becoming embroiled in a love triangle, carving out the path of the Whanganui River along its escape route.
Egmont National Park lies about 30 minutes drive from central New Plymouth in your rental car. There are three main entry points to the national park, on Manaia Road, Egmont Road and Pembroke Road.
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery / Len Lye Centre
Behold the first and only museum of contemporary art in New Zealand, right here in New Plymouth. Significantly, this is also the country’s first facility devoted to just one artist, Len Lye.
On offer at the Govett Brewster Art Gallery is is a constantly changing exhibition programme, huge multimedia and kinetic sculptures, and daring work from both local and international artists. The Govett-Brewster Shop is similarly innovative, with beautifully designed merchandise and desirable limited edition items - not your average souvenir store.
The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery was first established in 1970, and a decade later, became home to the archives of local filmmaker and kinetic artist Len Lye upon his death, working with the Len Lye Foundation. The dedicated Len Lye Centre then opened in 2015 in order to do justice to his extensive body of work. One of the most innovative artists of the 20th century, Lye worked across film, painting, drawing, textiles, poetry and sculpture. A 62 seat on site cinema screens Lye’s work allowing audiences to experience his films first hand, as well as other arthouse, experimental and film festival programming.
Located in central New Plymouth not far from our rental depot, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre is housed within a truly unique building that is suitably modern. With curved, shimmering, mirror like walls of stainless steel, the building seems almost fluid - the perfect temple for contemporary art. Next door to the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery you’ll find Monica’s Eatery, a cafe inspired by Monica Brewster - an art lover and founding patron of the gallery.
Located in the heart of New Plymouth, Pukekura Park has been transformed from a barren swamp to an inner city oasis. Opened in 1876, it spans around 52 hectares, including lakes, gardens, bush and wailing trails.
Within Purekura Park lie the Fernery and Display Houses, acclaimed the world over for their design and plant displays. The Fernery is made up of a trio of caverns built into the side of a hill below ground level, with glass ceilings.
The outdoor amphitheatre of the TSB Bowl is a key venue for events, from concerts to major festivals. Next to the TSB Bowl, Brooklands Zoo is also part of Purekura Park. This family friendly attraction houses farmyard animals as well as a range of more exotic creatures - the wallaby, lemur, red panda. Walk through the aviary and see an array of colourful bird, or enjoy the tamarin monkeys and capuchin monkeys in their enclosures.
Water features heavily in Purekura Park. A tall fountain was installed to honour Queen Elizabeth’s 1954 visit, with more than a dozen dazzling spray combinations. Close by you’ll find a (man made) 10 metre waterfall. Stroll over the lake via the Poet’s Bridge, or cross the upper lake on the Boat Shed Bridge.
New Plymouth has two sister cities, Mishima in Japan and Kunming in China, and two gardens have been set up within Purekura Park accordingly. The Japanese Hillside was designed in line with a typical Japanese forest and includes a traditional red gate. The Kunming Garden is a traditional Chinese garden complete with pavilion and moon gate entrance.
Other highlights of Purekura Park include Monument Hill, the Aotearoa Sculpture and the Rhododendron Dell, bordered by a grove of rimu, kowhai, and totara trees.
If you pick your rental car up at New Plymouth Airport it will take you about 15 minutes to drive Pukekura Park.
Sugar Loaf Islands
Named for the lumps of sugar that Captain Cook once put in his tea, the Sugar Loaf islands lie off the coast of New Plymouth. They are the remains of a historic volcanic crater. If you drive to Paritutu Rock in your rental car, at the eastern end of New Plymouth’s harbour, you can climb up the track to look out to the islands. But to really appreciate their full beauty you’ll need to take a tour out to the Sugar Loaf Islands. Charter companies operate expeditions to the islands, and dive operators allow you to experience the rich underwater world.
Below the ocean surface lie steep reefs, canyons and cliffs. Whether above or below the water, the Sugar Loaf Islands are a treasured and protected environment and have been since 1986. A dizzying variety of marine life call the waters around the Sugar Loaf islands home, including close to 100 species of fish. The mix of rocky surfaces and sand flats, and both warm and cold currents, appeals to a range of sea life, including anemones and sponges. On land, close to 100 different types of native plants grow on the Sugar Loaf Islands, such as the rare Cook’s scurvy grass.
Seals as well as sea birds breed around here; among the sea birds that congregate, nest and feed among the Sugar Loaf islands are herons, terns, shags, shearwaters, petrels and even penguins. Dolphins, orca and pilot whales frequently swim through. Humpback whales also migrate through in winter. The local seal colony is made up of hundreds of New Zealand fur seals - most are here over the winter and spring although some reside here year round.
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Great for backpackers like us on a tight budget. Got to do more of the amazing things NZ offers with the money we saved. Awesome!
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