12 Hours New Plymouth
The best of art and food collide in coastal New Plymouth. Enjoy world-class art, culture, and cuisine in a seaside setting, with a backdrop of mountain views, all in our 12-hour day trip guide to New Plymouth and the best things to do.
Once only known for dairy farming and its underground resources, in the last decade New Plymouth has grown into a sophisticated and stylish city where culture and arts are kings.
Located in the Taranaki region on the wild and rugged West Coast of the North Island, New Plymouth might be somewhat off the beaten track, but it's a city well worth visiting. Taranaki is also home to Mount Taranaki (note the skiing and snowboarding opportunities), an iconic symbol of the region, along with a number of beautiful walking and tramping tracks. This coastal city also has world-class surfing on the Tasman Sea and an epic coastal walkway. It’s an outdoor lover’s dream.
New Plymouth has built an impressive repertoire of vibrant places to eat, drink, shop and explore. Along with farmers' markets, craft fairs, an exciting theatre and music scene, galleries big and small, and pop up spaces and events, it’s the perfect urban getaway.
Here's our guide to the best places to eat, drink, shop, visit and stay while you're in town.
7:30am Wake up at King and Queen Hotel Suites
Corner of King and Queen Streets, New Plymouth
Backing on to the White Hart precinct, King and Queen Hotel Suites is the place to stay if you want to be in the thick of the action. Expect beautiful rooms with Moroccan-style decor and excellent service at this New Plymouth hotel. Food from nearby establishments such as Monica's Eatery and coffee from Ozone make the room service offerings here one of the best in the country.
8.30am: Coffee at Ozone Coffee Roasters
47 King Street, New Plymouth
Established in 1998, and now with cafés in Auckland and London, Ozone Coffee Roasters is a New Plymouth success story. Ozone's HQ on King Street is the best spot in town for coffee. Start your day with an espresso or two from their flagship café and coffee roastery, and take home a bag of their beans as a momento from your trip.
9am: Breakfast at Monica’s Eatery
42 Queen Street, New Plymouth
Once fully caffeinated, pop around the corner to your first meal of the day. Located next door to the Govett-Brewster Gallery and Len Lye Centre, Monica’s Eatery is a spectacular example of an art gallery restaurant.
The inspirational space has been designed with the adjourning gallery and museum in mind. With its light-filled space and vast ceiling, Monica’s is a true beauty. Choose from a menu of breakfast favourites (think omelette, benedict, and free-range eggs on sourdough), or take your pick from a kedgeree with house-smoked fish, baby pea, mint and ricotta fritters or a breakfast bolognese with a poached egg on sourdough.
10am: Culture at Govett-Brewster and Len Lye Centre
42 Queen Street, New Plymouth
'The gallery is split into two distinct parts; Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and the Len Lye Centre. Although adjoining, these two buildings couldn’t be more diametrically opposed in architectural style. Len Lye was a pioneer of kinetic art; a visionary before his time. Transitioning over to the Govett-Brewster gallery is simple (in the form of a bridge walkway) and will take you into the wide world of contemporary art. With large white walls and generous spaces for contemplation, the gallery exhibits an exciting roster of both New Zealand and international artists.
11.30am: Coffee break at Bleached
109 Devon Street West, New Plymouth
Shimmy yourself along to Bleached and Crystal Cylinder, an industrial coffee shop slash lifestyle store. Bleached serves hot coffees and bagels on repeat alongside their affable neighbours, Crystal Cylinder, who dabble in covetable getups and homewares.
12pm: Explore Quarter Bank Precinct
97 King Street, New Plymouth
Hidden down a garlanded alleyway, you'll discover 'Quarter Bank', a collective of artists, makers and bakers housed in former shipping containers. The Jewel and The Jeweller is a treasure trove of delights that is the vision of practising jewellers Jennifer Laracy and Sam Kelly.
Billow, a petite bakery making quite the impression since opening its doors in 2018, uses a 100-year-old culture from France, which is left in the dough to ferment for up to 36 hours (as natural yeasts take longer to rise). There are, of course, ridiculously good pastries too, as well as a handful of other delicious and highly coveted goods.
1pm: Lunch at Elixir
162 Devon Street East, New Plymouth
Elixir Café in New Plymouth is a classic in every sense. Named after a magic potion, the place does operate with a special kind of alchemy. The food is humble and delicious, the portion sizes are generous, and so is the service. Friendly and attentive, you really feel like you’ve been welcomed into the fold.
2:30pm: Best of New Plymouth Shopping
There's a trail of unique retail for anyone wanting to take a memento of Taranaki home with them. Some top picks include; Vintage Industries is a beacon - twofold in fact - for its salvaged antiques from across the globe and golden exterior.
There's nothing remotely ordinary about The Virtue. The perfumery's flagship store is an otherworldly experience; stepping inside is like being invited to dance with hedonism. All perfumes are carefully displayed with evocative imagery and detailed fragrance notes helping the novices learn more. They can be purchased as incense, perfume, candles or room sprays. Located in a heritage building, Kina's shelves and walls are bursting with an accessible and affordable selection of art with everything from ceramics to glassworks to paintings to handcrafted jewellery.
4pm: Stroll along the Coastal Walkway
Coastal Walkway, New Plymouth
A quick 10-minute walk East and you are at the Coastal Walkway. No visit to New Plymouth is complete without time spent on the stunning coastline. Once railway tracks and inaccessible, locals and visitors are now fortunate to have access to 12.7 km of seaside walking and cycling space. Walking the entire Coastal Walkway is very manageable. In summer, bikes are available to hire and be sure to get a good look at the city's famous Wind Wand by kinetic artist Len Lye.
5.30pm: Beers at Shining Peak Brewing
59 Gill Street, New Plymouth
The shining light of the New Plymouth beer scene, Shining Peak is a recent addition to the city. A popular brewery and eatery, kick back, and try one of their house-brewed beers (5% of beer revenues to local charities and organisations). If you are in New Plymouth for longer than 12 hours, then a brewery tour is a must-do.
6pm: Dinner at Social Kitchen
40 Powderham Street, New Plymouth
Social Kitchen is found inside the refurbished Salvation Army building, now fitted out with a hip and charming interior. The communal dining and sharing plates add a nice community feel while you dine on impeccable food. They are big on meat here, so it would be rude not to try their famous lamb shoulder or angus scotch fillet. Along with incredible meat dishes, you will find some even more delicious vegetarian options on the menu: eggplant parmigiana, housemade gnocchi, and polenta fries.
Time for a night cap.
8.30pm: Night Cap at Itch Wine Bar
2/47 Queen Street, Central, New Plymouth
Every town deserves a late-night wine bar as good as Itch. The friendly bartenders are poised ready to make you a memorable drink on arrival. Watch them razzle-dazzle as they pluck the bottles from the extensive range of spirits and wines that sit neatly on shelves behind them.
Have longer than 12 hours?
In New Plymouth for a bit longer? We recommend popping into these places for a visit too:
First and foremost a bakery serving sourdough loaves that have been naturally leavened, Billow is also a great spot for a coffee and something sweet, such as a cinnamon morning bun or pain au chocolat. Set up by Rosie Sargisson and Jeff Fong in 2017, Billow is a cosy wee spot and a great place to watch passionate bread makers doing what they love.
New Plymouth's grand old White Hart Hotel has undergone extensive renovation in recent years and now plays host to a seriously cool line up of eating and watering holes. The Public Catering Company opens daily for excellent coffee and a great line up of sandwiches, salads, and baked goods. The doughnuts are a local favourite.
Also housed in the White Hart precinct, The Snug, as it is affectionately known, is a bar cum Japanese tapas restaurant where the food - mostly yakitori - is good and reasonably priced. Sit in the beautifully restored bar and restaurant space or in the expansive year-round outdoor courtyard. This place is casual and fun.
Some have gone so far as to say that the sushi at MOMO is the best in the country, and we tend to agree. Here the sushi is served buffet style, some of the freshest and most innovative sushi we have had. MOMO is a must-visit.
Located in the suburb of Fitzroy, The Fed, as the locals call it, is a favourite in this town. The cabinet food is supreme, the milkshakes are famous, and the coffee is good. This eclectic cafe, with a classic Kiwi vibe, is well worth the short drive from the centre of town.
A small wee bar just off the city's main drag, The Hourglass is quiet in the early hours of the evening, but humming come 10pm on a Friday or Saturday night. Here you will find good cocktails, a seriously good lineup of craft beer and excellent shared plates. The outdoor courtyard is great in summer, and the bar is particularly cosy in the winter months.
Pukekura Park is the jewel in New Plymouth's crown. The centrally located park covers 52 hectares and offers great walks, beautiful lakes that visitors can row old wooden boats on, the renowned Bowl of Brooklands that hosts major events such as the city's annual WOMAD festival and one of the country's most beautiful cricket grounds. In summer don't miss the outstanding Festival of Lights - the park becomes a wonderland of light installations and free family events and gigs.
A 20-minute drive from the centre of New Plymouth, the seaside village of Oakura is well worth a visit if you are into the beach. Check out the great surf, enjoy a walk at nearby Lucy’s Gully at the bottom of beautiful Mt Taranaki, and pay a visit to hole-in-the-wall café Kin & Co for good sandwiches and coffee by Supreme.
This speciality food store and deli has a very extensive lineup of food and drink products from all four corners of the globe. Check out Vetro if you like specialty food products or want to do some of your own cooking while you are in the city.
A beautiful gift and homewares shop, Tempt is the city's exclusive stockist of products by the likes of Citta Design and Status Anxiety. A small but perfectly curated selection of clothing and footwear by KowTow, Beau Coops and others is on offer too.
The Nice Hotel is housed in a grand old villa that overlooks the city. It's run by local icon Terry Parkes, who will welcome you with open arms into a place that feels more like a home than a hotel. The rooms are beautiful, and the Hotel has a great restaurant, Table, if you don’t feel like venturing further afield.
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