New Plymouth is one of the best cities to visit in New Zealand, yet for some reason it is often overlooked.
Maybe it is because it is off the beaten path, or maybe it’s because it just doesn’t have the reputation that cities such as Rotorua do.
However, one thing is for sure. New Plymouth should be on every tourists map, because it’s one of the most unique places in the country to visit.
The city itself has a very unique culture that you can’t find elsewhere in the country. To know exactly what I mean, you have to experience it yourself.
One of the aspects that makes New Plymouth’s atmosphere and culture so unique is its coastal location. No part of the city is more than 15 minutes drive away from the ocean.
On top of this, New Plymouth has some absolutely stunning beaches. I would go as far as to say that it has some of the best in the country.
It’s impossible to mention the beaches of New Plymouth without mentioning what is perhaps the biggest attraction of all that the city has to offer. That is the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway.
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The New Plymouth Coastal Walkway
The WindWand, a famous walkway attraction.
The New Plymouth Coastal Walkway is a very long path that spans the coast of the entire city. It connects the northern end of the city to the southern end and is almost 13km long.
At one end, the walkway span meets Port Taranaki. On the other, it reaches as far as Bell Block. However, the walkway is always being expanded and there are plans to expand it even further north in the future.
The walkway follows the coast and features many stunning views. You will get to take in the fresh ocean air and to enjoy whatever mode of transport you like – from walking, to bikes, to electric scooters.
The walkway also passes right by the centre of the city at Puke Ariki and Centre City. It’s quite far to say that the walkway connects the city and makes New Plymouth a very walking-friendly city.
Further, the walkway also features many famous landmarks of the city. The Te Rewa Rewa Bridge and the Windwand in particular are two very famous works of art located along the 13km walk.
Where to Stay
Since New Plymouth is a very small city that is almost entirely coastal, it’s hard to find somewhere to stay that is far away from the coastal walkway. However, there are some locations that will let you make the most of the walkway.
The Belt Road Seaside Holiday Park is particularly popular and is very famous among visitors. They also offer a variety of different accommodation options depending on what you want.
The most popular option is the motel. These are little cabins that can house from one to seven people. These motels offer stunning ocean views and are self-contained.
If you would prefer to camp, you can pitch a tent in one of the allotted zones. This is ideal in the warmer months and is a fantastic way to enjoy the fresh air.
The best news is that nowhere in the Belt Road Seaside Holiday Park is more than two minutes walk from the coastal walkway. You really can’t find a closer accommodation option than this.
If you would prefer a more hotel style accommodation experience, there are also some fantastic hotel options. The Millennium Hotel New Plymouth is one of these options.
The hotel is located in the heart of the city and overlooks both the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway and the ocean. On top of this however, the Millennium is also located within a few minutes of New Plymouth’s only shopping mall and many other attractions (such as Puke Ariki).
The Millennium has perhaps one of the best locations in the city as it is so central to almost everything. Although it isn’t the cheapest option, you definitely get what you pay for.
If you want the absolute best views you can also check out the Waterfront on Woolcombe. This hotel is located on top of a cliff that overlooks the walkway and ocean and the views are stunning.
Although being a bit less central, the views and quality of the rooms more than make up for a few minutes extra walking. The good news is that the CBD is still within a short 10 minute walk.
If you want the best views on your stay, make sure to check out the Waterfront on Woolcombe.
Coastal Walkway Highlights
There are many highlights located along the walkway and it is impossible to list them all here (and still keep the post a manageable length!). Therefore, I will just be mentioning some of the more popular attractions and highlights.
The walkway starts at one end at Port Taranaki. Port Taranaki is built around Ngamotu Beach and this is one of the most calm beaches in the city. If you are looking for a family friendly beach, this is the ideal place.
It’s also possible to hire kayaks and other watercraft at Chaddy’s Charters. This is a fun way to explore the port and you can even head out to the nearby islands if you want!
You can find lots of wildlife such as seals, and if you are lucky you can sometimes see whales and sharks. Of course, if you would prefer to feel a bit safer, you can always hop in the bigger boat!
Moving towards the CBD you can find the New Plymouth Aquatic Centre. This is the biggest and most popular swimming pool in the city and is a great place for families.
There are multiple hydroslides as well as other fun activities such as diving boards and trampolines. The swimming pool also features wave machines for artificial waves in the swimming pool.
If you want to swim more seriously, you can always go outdoors to where the bigger swimming pool with lanes is.
Moving further along the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway you will find the CBD. The CBD itself is quite small, but there is a lot to see and do.
New Plymouth is a city that is famous for art and culture and you will find many different art galleries and museums around the city. The city is also relatively famous for its coffee culture, and there are many great cafes!
The cities only shopping mall is also located just off of the walkway and it’s only a two minute walk from the walkway. Having everything so central makes it very easy to go from one activity to the next.
The walkway goes through the CBD.
Puke Ariki (the cities primary museum) is also located just next to the Centre City Shopping Mall, and you can spend some time looking around its exhibits if you are interested.
Moving along the walkway further is East End. East End is one of the cities most popular swimming beaches and for good reason. The beach has good facilities and during the summer there are always lifeguards on duty.
You will also find many seating areas around here as well as other attractions. There is an indoor skating rink, skate park, river mouth (which is great for children) a playground, and more.
If you would prefer to just sit back and stay dry, you can also visit the East End cafe which sits right next to the rivermouth.
Moving even further along the Coastal Walkway will bring you to my favourite (and local) area. That is Fitzroy beach, another very popular swimming beach.
Fitzroy Beach is similar to East End and has many facilities as well as lifeguards during the summer. You will also find children’s swimming pools here for those who prefer to not swim in the ocean.
The walkway just past Fitzroy Beach.
A little bit past Fitzroy Beach is the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge. This is a very famous landmark in the city and one that many people go out of their way to visit. While I personally don’t find it very impressive, it does make for some fantastic photo opportunities.
The walkway doesn’t end here, and in fact, it goes quite a lot further. If you have the time to explore further I highly recommend it. All of the walkway is unique, and it’s worth exploring.
However, many visitors won’t go further towards Bell Block as the walkway goes through a few kilometres of country before reaching the suburb.
Ways to Enjoy the Walkway
There are many different ways to enjoy the walkway and since you’re in New Plymouth, why not make the most of the Coastal Walkway?
One of the best ways to enjoy the walkway is simply to explore it. If you want to walk, jog, or run, then the walkway is a fantastic place to get some exercise.
If you would prefer to bike, however, you can. Bikes can be hired from a few points along the walkway. Chaddy’s Charters (located at Port Taranaki) has bike hire and Cycle Inn on Devon Street also offers bike hire.
There are even some more unique transport options available such as electric bikes (from Cycle Inn) and the infamous tandem bike and wind wander.
Of course, no walkway visit is complete without swimming! You can’t visit New Plymouth and not swim. If you do, you are missing out!
Fitzroy Beach in the summer. A fantastic beach for swimming!
New Plymouth has many great swimming locations along the walkway. However, there are three areas that are the best for safety reasons (during the summer they will have lifeguards on duty).
Those are Fitzroy Beach, East End and Ngamotu. Fitzroy and East End are quite close to each other and are the two rougher beaches. Ngamotu on the other hand is a lot more calm and child friendly.
If you want to try surfing, the Fitzroy and East End are the beaches to be at. While they usually aren’t overly rough, they can intimidate less confident swimmers. On windy days they can be very rough.
All of these beaches have changing rooms and bathrooms allowing you to get changed at the beach.
Since New Plymouth is known for having good coffee and cafes, why not combine this with the amazing ocean that runs along the coast? There are some fantastic cafes located along the walkway and its a great way to spend your morning (or anytime of day!).
Fitzroy Beach, East End and Ngamotu all have cafes with seaside views available. There are also some options in the CBD that have views overlooking the ocean. For example, Robert Harris in Centre City offers a beautiful view over the walkway and ocean.
If you are looking for something quintessentially New Zealand, then why not enjoy some fish and chips at one of the scenic lookouts along the coastal walkway?
Fish and chips can be purchased all over the city and almost every fish and chip store will offer great quality fresh fish. This will be served in paper wrapping that can also serve as a plate.
Carry your fish and chips down to the beach and find a nice location to sit down and have a picnic while watching the ocean. Just make sure to pick up any trash when you leave! Thankfully, rubbish bins are plentiful and you should have no issues disposing of waste.
Of course, there is a lot more that you can do that isn’t included here. However, these are just a few that ideas of ways to enjoy the coastal walkway.
Coastal Walkway – Other Notes
Back beach is located just past the walkway.
There are a few things worth noting when you are visiting (or planning to) the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway.
- If you want to visit the coastal walkway but are unsure if you will be able to manage walking the whole distance, mobility scooters are available. Just make sure to call and inquire in advance!
- Back beach is another stunning beach that is located a short 10 minute walk past the Port Taranaki end of the Coastal Walkway. If you don’t mind leaving the walkway for a short while, you will find Back Beach a fantastic beach to visit.
- Paritutu is located right next to Back Beach and it another landmark that many people like to visit. If you want to experience some minor rock climbing, it’s a walk worth doing!
Is the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway Worth Visiting?
It’s fair to say that the walkway is the biggest attraction in New Plymouth. If it isn’t the biggest, then it’s definitely a close second after Mount Taranaki.
The Coastal Walkway brings a lot of identity to New Plymouth and it is loved by locals. While also being a tourist attraction, it brings a lot of functionality by allowing citizens to access most of the city via foot or bike.
It also combines many of the cities best beaches, making it possible to travel between the easily and quickly. Want to go swimming at the beach and then enjoy a coffee in the CBD? The walkway allows you to do that.
It contributes to the outdoor and beach identity that the city has, and it is also an attraction that everyone should visit when in New Plymouth!