Must Visit Beaches in New Plymouth

New Plymouth Beach

Despite being rated as the second-best region in the world to visit by Lonely Planet in 2017, Taranaki is still a very underrated place within New Zealand. These are the must-visit beaches in New Plymouth!


There’s a certain type of lifestyle that exists within Taranaki. A rather chill atmosphere with a laid-back attitude – something which makes it an ideal place to retire or vacation. Coming back from Seoul, the quietness and casual lifestyle was the first thing I noticed. Many people flock to New Zealand for the lifestyle, and Taranaki is the epitome of said lifestyle.

With that being said, you may be wondering by now ‘Why does a blog called Seoulinspired have anything to do with blogs about New Zealand?!’. Well, New Zealand, and more precisely, Taranaki is actually my home!

It’s interesting how despite living somewhere for your whole life (even if that ‘whole’ is only 18 years) you can miss some of the most spectacular aspects of an area. Or if you don’t miss them altogether, they become mundane. Something standard and expected. You don’t realise what you have until you don’t have it.

Anyway, the point that I am trying to get to here is that it took me going away and coming back to appreciate some of the aspects of life here. I hated the beach for the longest time, and while I’m still not a beach fanatic like some, I have come to appreciate it for what it is.

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Beaches of New Plymouth

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New Plymouth has some amazing beaches. I took this photo of Back Beach from Paritutu Rock.

The beaches of New Plymouth are some of the most underrated in the country. Most of the prime locations are located in the country, and usually city beaches don’t have the best reputation. However, there are a few cities that have amazing beaches – Napier, New Plymouth, and Nelson to name but three.

Being in one of those places with relatively underrated beaches I wanted to make a post covering some of them. While providing some photos that may just encourage you to visit and check out these stunning locations!

The beaches listed below aren’t special or unknown beaches, in fact, they are all very popular. This post is definitely not for a local. However, if you haven’t visited New Plymouth or Taranaki before and want to check out some beaches while you are here then this post is for you!

Back Beach

Quite possibly the most fun beach in the city, Back Beach is the first beach on this list. (In)famous for its incredibly large sand dune, Back Beach was voted one of New Zealand’s favourite beaches. However, there’s more than just a large sand dune. Stunning views of the sugarloaf islands, wildlife spotting, and fantastic swimming await all who visit.

The dune is so big that it was rated as the #1 Taranaki summer exercise spot. That’s saying something! Don’t let the exercise put you off though, it is A LOT of fun! Unfortunately, the stairs back to the top were recently removed.

If you intend to have fun on the sand dune just keep in mind that what goes down must come up. I feel like I got that wrong… Anyway. There is a car park located further down the beach, or you can head back up the dune.

Let’s say though that maybe you aren’t interested in Taranaki’s best workout. Maybe wildlife spotting, stunning views, or swimming sound more interesting for you? Luckily Back Beach still has you covered! Being between all of the islands, it is one of the best places in the region for seal, whale, shark, and penguin spotting.

Stunning Views!

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Back Beach is (in my opinion) definitely the most beautiful beach in the city.

Speaking of sharks, what about swimming? The swimming is also great! (Don’t worry about the sharks, they are pretty rare!). If you are a capable swimmer then Back Beach is a nice place to swim, and it can be pretty exciting! If you aren’t a capable swimmer or are with younger family members then consider swimming elsewhere. Back Beach doesn’t have lifeguards and it’s a more dangerous beach than the others below.

Back beach is located at the bottom of a cliff (which the sand dune runs down), and therefore it also has quite a view (to say the least!). The top of the cliffs have some stunning views to the west – something which makes it perfect for sunset views. The view to the north is also beautiful and the islands can be seen.

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This photo was taken near the carpark that overlooks Back Beach. This is one of the best places in the city for photos!

Back beach is really one of the country’s most stunning beaches, and for good reason! If you’ve read this far, then here is my advice. Visit in the afternoon before sundown and bring some refreshments to enjoy. The sand dune and beach will keep anyone entertained in the daytime, and watching the sun go down with some food and drinks is perfect.

Must take items for Back Beach

  • Boogie Board. For both the water and the sand dune! If you have something else like a sled, consider bringing it.
  • Jandals (flip flops), or some kind of open footwear. You can’t avoid the sand here!
  • Swimwear/towel
  • Sunblock. The New Zealand sun is notorious for being dangerous. Even if you don’t get sunburnt in other places, use sunblock here. It’s not worth risking skin cancer for a nice day at the beach.
  • Camera. Back Beach is very pretty!
  • If you are also interested in visiting Paritutu Rock (more about this below), make sure to bring sturdy footwear also.
  • Looking to purchase anything on this list? Check out Mighty Ape.

Accessing Back Beach

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Back beach is one of the harder beaches to access simply because it is right on the edge of town. It’s easy enough to reach, but it can be time consuming by foot. If you have access to a vehicle however, it is very easy to visit and from the CBD is only a ten to fifteen minute drive!

From the city head towards Port Taranki (located in Moturoa) along St Aubyn Street (which turns into Breakwater Road). Turn onto Ngamotu Road and then right away onto Centennial Drive. Paritutu Rock is also located right next to Back Beach, and if you are interested in views then it’s a must visit! Paritutu is an extinct volcanic spire that is now climbable for views over the Taranaki coast.

Paritutu Rock is not a hard climb, however, it will definitely scare some people. The path is on a cliffs edge, and has metal ropes for hand-holding. If you plan to climb the rock make sure that you have sturdy shoes and are prepared for a small adventure. The climb itself takes only 10-15 minutes and is possible for most ages. Young children and elderly may have difficulty however.

Paritutu has a view over the whole city, from the east (towards the city) to the west (for stunning sunsets). It can be quite windy towards the top however, considering that it’s a big rock located right on the coast.

Fitzroy and East End

While Back Beach owes its popularity to its fantastic views and unique setting, Fitzroy and East end beaches are some of the most popular swimming beaches in the city. The beaches are located apart from one another, but they are adjacent and easily walkable. As such, I have included them under the same umbrella.

Both beaches attract large crowds in summer (a large New Zealand crowd is probably not as big as you imagine. In fact, they are quite small really) due to their prime swimming locations. These beaches are manned in the afternoon and early evening by lifeguards. This gives peace of mind while swimming and means that it’s perfect for a family day.

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East End Beach also has some cool rock pools next to the Coastal Walkway!

The lifeguards are on duty from late November to early March (the 24th of November until the 11th of March in 2019) from 1 pm until 5 pm. While the lifeguards end at 5 pm, it is usually safe to swim for a few more hours as there will still be a lot of people. Safety in numbers after all! If you are not a confident swimmer though definitely swim between the hours listed above.

The Best Swimming Beaches

If you see flags on the beach then make sure to stick between them as the flags represent the area that is monitored by the lifeguards, AKA, the safe area. It’s easy to get swept down the beach in the currents, so make sure to keep an eye on the flags and check them every few minutes.

Te Henui River, East End

The Te Henui River flows into the ocean at East End. This creates a great location to have picnics and for children to play.

These beaches are two of the less tame beaches. Fitzroy especially. Depending on the weather, there will be some very decently sized waves at times. If you aren’t confident with rough waters then check out Ngamotu beach – inside the New Plymouth Port, it gets all of the benefits of the massive breakwaters.

Both of the beaches have changing rooms as well as public toilets available. This is perfect if you don’t want to get your car wet or if you would prefer to not wait for the sun to dry you off – no one wants wet seats. Both beaches also have cafes, and this makes them perfect even if you aren’t interested in swimming.

Must take items for a day at Fitzroy Beach

  • Loose footwear. The sand can get unbearably hot, so make sure you have something for your feet.
  • Towel. For the same reason as above.
  • Your preferred entertainment. Boogie Board, Skim Board, etc.
  • Sunblock. The New Zealand sun is notorious for being dangerous. Even if you don’t get sunburnt in other places, use sunblock here. It’s not worth risking skin cancer for a nice day at the beach.
  • Swimwear. If you are planning on swimming this is obviously a must!
  • Looking to purchase anything on this list? Check out Mighty Ape.

Accessing Fitzroy Beach

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The beach is located right next to the Fitzroy Surf Life Saving Club. Fitzroy beach is easily accessible from anywhere in the city. It is located well within the city limits and can either be reached by foot along the coastal walkway, or via car along Beach Street.

Accessing East End Beach

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East End is even more central than Fitzroy beach and can beach reached on foot along the coastal walkway or by car from the Te Henui Rivermouth (or Nobs Line). East End also has a playground and river mouth to play in, and is great for children. Both East End Beach and Fitzroy Beach have cafes available!

As I mentioned above, Fitzroy and East End beaches are in close proximity. If you spend an afternoon at the beach it is easy enough to visit both as easy has its own attractions.

Ngamotu Beach

Ngamotu Beach is a beach that is often not considered by locals, simply for the reason that is very calm. Located within the breakwaters of Port Taranaki means that this beach receives all of the benefits of them! For people who want a more relaxing day at the beach, and families with children and elderly, Ngamotu is perfect.

Visitors will find that the beach itself is very well equipped – perhaps more so than any of the other beaches listed here. Public bathrooms with changing rooms are available, playgrounds are on site, and there are many cafes and even an ice-cream truck. Not only these though, but there is also a great treeline located just behind the beach with lots of benches to sit on. This comes as a blessing on the blistering hot days! If you’ve never felt the pain of walking on black sand you’ll soon know it after visiting Taranaki.

Port Taranaki

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Another photo I took from Paritutu Rock. Ngamotu is located inside Port Taranaki (on the left of the image) and as such it is very well equipped and calm.

Ngamotu is home to the Taranaki Yacht club and as such it also has a lot of sailors. This isn’t a problem however, as the beach is very large! If you are interested in paddle-boarding, kayaking, or getting a boat ride out to the sugarloaf islands then Ngamotu is the best place! I would say that Ngamotu is undoubtedly the best equipped beach with the most activities out of the New Plymouth beaches.

Lifeguards won’t be on duty here, however, that is hardly a problem. The ocean is calm enough that it is essentially just a giant swimming pool. It is also a very gradual decline, meaning that the water only gets gradually deeper.

Must take items for a day at Ngamotu Beach

  • Picnic hamper! A picnic is nice at any beach really, but Ngamotu is perfect for it!
  • Open footwear. Once again, the sand can get very hot! Bring something to protect your feet.
  • Cash. If you plan to hire a kayak or paddle-board. Also, there is an ice-cream van which can usually be found at the beach.
  • Looking to purchase anything on this list? Check out Mighty Ape.

Accessing Ngamotu Beach

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Ngamotu Beach is located close to Back Beach, just on the opposite side of Paritutu Rock. The beach has ample parking on-site, and the beach can be reached about 10 metres away! Simply drive along St Aubyn Street until it becomes Breakwater Road and then turn down Bayly Road. Then you’re at the beach!

Taranaki – Like No Other?

New Plymouth (and Taranaki as a whole) has some stunning beaches. One could easily go as far as to say they are some of the best in the country… As long as you don’t mind black sand! From the calm beaches of Ngamotu to the great surf of Fitzroy, there is a lot to do. If you are spending any amount of time in New Plymouth expect to spend a few afternoons at the beach!

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