46° below: Explore the Subantarctic Islands this summer
Expand the 'travel local' mantra slightly and scratch your travel itch in the Subantarctic Islands. Your passport might be gathering dust, but ...
Presided over by the majestic, conical Mount Taranaki, the region combines the gentle charms of rural New Zealand with the surprisingly sophisticated cultural offerings of its main centre, New Plymouth.
The charming town of New Plymouth houses one of the country’s best art galleries, while outside the town, the magnificent Mount Taranaki can be trekked, viewed by air, and even skied. Take a bus tour with Eastern Taranaki Experience. Taranaki boasts a number of interesting cultural institutions including the Fun Ho! National Toy Museum in Inglewood, New Plymouth's acclaimed Govett–Brewster Art Gallery and Puke Ariki, while Hawera is home to the Tawhiti Museum. You can also step back in time at Taranaki Pioneer Village. Take a tour with Taranaki Tours, or if you feel like getting out on the water, talk to TaraWave Surf School.
New Plymouth has received plenty of kudos in competitions and surveys naming New Zealand’s top places to live, and it’s easy to see why with the number of enjoyable cafés, restaurants and bars that this seaside town has to offer. Cafés worth investigating include the deli-style deliciousness of Café Govett-Brewster, Ozone Coffee (worth seeking out for a great cuppa joe), and Petit Paris. For dining, consider Italian cuisine with sea views at Arborio Restaurant Café & Bar, or Salt on the Waterfront. Dinner done and time to hit the town? Try Crowded House Bar and Café, Frederic’s or the Whangamomona Hotel.
Rest your head in this relaxing corner of the country at one of several good accommodation options to suit different budgets. Ducks and Drakes Boutique Motel and Backpackers in New Plymouth and Stratford Holiday Park are good options for those on a budget. Those with a bit more to spend might opt for Beach Street Motel Apartments or Millennium Hotel New Plymouth Waterfront.
New Plymouth Airport, 15 minutes’ drive from the centre of town, offers daily flights to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Flights to smaller North Island destinations are available with Sunair. New Plymouth is 5 hours and 15 minutes from Auckland by road and 5 hours, 5 minutes from Wellington (via SH 3). Bus companies provide regular services to New Plymouth. The Forgotten World Highway (SH 43) and Surf Highway 45 (SH 45) offer picturesque alternatives to the main roads. Find out more at the local Department of Conservation office at 55A Rimu Street or New Plymouth i–SITE, 65 St Aubyn Street.