New Plymouth Tourist Info Centre - By robinvanmourik
Credit/Licence flickr: By robinvanmourik

The progressive city of New Plymouth is a little gem. It’s a centre for arts and culture, and the downtown area is buzzing with cafes and restaurants. There’s good accommodation and the huge range of activities that you’d expect in a region filled with dazzling natural attractions - surf beaches, lush bush and the dramatic giant Mt Taranaki and Egmont National Park.

The area is also steeped in Maori culture and history. It was here that the New Zealand Land Wars began and, paradoxically, where the Maori tactic of passive resistance and non-violence took root late in the 19th century.

At the foreshore of the city stands the 45m-high Wind Wand, designed by modernist filmmaker and kinetic sculptor Len Lye. This visual icon weighs 900kg and sways 20m in the breeze. Its merits have stimulated passionate public debate and a copycat competition; you can find replicas throughout the region. By night the Wind Wand is transformed into a beacon, emitting a soft red glow.

Along the coast, black iron-sand beaches create a spectacular sight with the contrast of rugged shores and mountain views. To top it all, Surf Highway 45 offers some of the best surfing conditions in the country. In summer the weather is warm and the water is cool. In winter you can go surfing in the morning and skiing or snowboarding in the afternoon.

With its eco-adventure activities, stunning scenery, funky boutiques, stylish restaurants and cafes, art galleries and studios, New Plymouth and the Taranaki area is a place to linger.