Powered by New Zealand’s oil and diary industries, New Plymouth is often considered one of the best places to live in New Zealand. Wages are good, house prices aren’t overly silly compared with Auckland, and you’re never far away from a near empty beach or the Egmont National Park forty minutes drive away. There’s plenty to fill a few days exploring the place, starting with the waterfront, home to Len Lye’s 48m high kinetic sculpture Wind Wand.
For some of the best coastal views take a quick scramble up the rather steep (there are chains to help you) Paritutu Rock, with views over the port. I got to the top in time to see a huge rain front heading my way so didn’t spend long up there!
The Govett-Brewster art gallery is renowned as one of the best in the country, though it was closed last time I visited properly while they built the impressive Len Lye Centre extension, with it’s aptly reflective exterior.
Over the past few years there’s been some very cool street art added to the town centre.
An hour’s drive south from New Plymouth is one of the best museums in New Zealand, the fascinating and extensive Tawhiti Museum in Hawera, well worth a few hours of your time.
You can also walk / scramble to the summit if you’re fit enough, it’s summery and the weather is good. It’s hard work but rewarding.