New Plymouth, with its 45,000 inhabitants, is no exception to the rule that most of New Zealand’s cities have surroundings which are more attractive than the acutal cities themselves. Although New Plymouth is full of energy in the true sense – it has numerous gas and oil deposits – it has little which is of interest. Among its more intriguing buildings are St Mary’s Church on Vivian Street, the oldest stone church in the country; Hurworth Cottage on Carrington Road, a wooden faun house built in 1855; Richmond Cottage on the corner of Ariki and Brougham Streets, which housed the first settlers in the area, as well as The Gables on Brooklands Park Drive, a “hospital” built in 1848. All of them give insight into the history of the first Taranaki settlers. Lovingly restored, they are open to the public.
Now it’s time to put on your backpack, good strong hiking shoes, and start out for Mount Taranaki, formerly known as Mount Egmont. The National Park has still retained its old name.