New Plymouth Tourist Attractions
Under the north side of the Taranaki or Mount Egmont volcano (Taranaki, Egmont National Park) is the port of New Plymouth (pop. 50,000), an industrial town and commercial center of a farming region.
The harbor, formed in 1881 by the construction of breakwaters, handled dairy produce (particularly cheese) and now also ships raw materials for the petrochemical industry. The proximity of rich offshore deposits of fossil fuels (at Kapuni, Maui and elsewhere) has brought a number of industrial firms to New Plymouth, creating employment.New Plymouth, so called after its English namesake, was founded in 1841; the first settlers came from Devon and Cornwall. They are said to have found only small numbers of Maoris in this area - though the presence of many fortified settlements (pas) and kumara fields suggests the contrary. Probably the local Taranaki tribes, who had only clubs for combat, were so harried in the early decades of the 19th C. by the Waikato tribes, who were already equipped with firearms, that they moved south, where they sought to join up with Chief Te Rauparaha in order to get guns and reoccupy their tribal territory.Strife blew up between the returning Maori tribes and the settlers (pakehas), and in 1860 the conflict escalated into fierce country-wide fighting, sparked off by a fraudulent land deal at Waitara, 16km east of New Plymouth.
Pukara Park is laid out in Victorian style, with a fountain that is illuminated after dark and a waterfall.
Adjoining Pukara Park is Brookland Park, another attractive open space.
Nearby is The Gables, a wooden house built in 1848. It was originally a hospital but later was used as military quarters and an old people's home. It was moved to its present site in the early 20th C. It is now used for art exhibitions and cultural events.
The Taranaki Museum has a large collection of Maori objects from the region, including a stone used as an anchor, a stone axe from an ancestral canoe, a chief's cloak, old sculpture and woodcarving. There is also material on the early days of the settlers.
Beside the Taranaki Museum is Richmond Cottage, built on another site in 1853 as a schoolhouse and moved to its present position in 1962. It is furnished in period style and illustrates life in a well-to-do 19th C household.
Marsland Hill (wide views) can be climbed either from Robe Street or from St Mary's Church. The summit, which was gradually leveled over the centuries, was once occupied by a Maori pa. During the land wars British troops were stationed on the hill.
St Mary's Church
On Marsland Hill, in the center of the town, is one of the oldest stone churches in New Zealand (built for Bishop Selwyn in 1842), with a fine interior. During the land wars it served as a military post and ammunition depot. In the churchyard are the graves of early settlers.
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
This gallery presents contemporary New Zealand art. The collection includes works by Len Lye (sculpture, pictures).
There are several attractions in the New Plymouth surrounding area which can be easily visited on a day trip from the city.
A few kilometers south of New Plymouth is the old immigrant settlement of Hurworth, which still preserves a small homestead built in 1855 by Harry Atkinson (1831-92), an opponent of Governor Gray who played a prominent part in the Taranaki land war and later became a highly respected politician (three times premier of New Zealand).
Pukeiti Rhododendron Trust
In the nearby expanse of rain forest between mounts Patuha (683m) and Pouakai (1400m) is the Pukeiti Rhododendron Trust, a large nature reserve that is brilliant with blossom in spring.
Address: 2290 Carrington Road, New Zealand
Opening hours: Apr 1 to Aug 31: 10am-3pm
Sep 1 to Mar 31: 9am-5pm
Sep 1 to Mar 31: 9am-5pm
Always closed on: Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in NZD: Adult $16.00, Senior over 65 $14.00, Child FREE
Facilities: Gift shop, Restaurant or food service
At Pungarehu, 40km southwest of New Plymouth, a road goes off to Cape Egmont, with a lighthouse built in 1881. On the cape are numerous striking conical lava formations.
15km further east is Urenui, birthplace of the famous Maori scholar and politician Peter Buck, who is buried under a stone canoe prow near the old Maori fortified settlement of Okoki Pa.