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New Plymouth

Ngāmotu (Māori)
Views across New Plymouth in July 2010
Views across New Plymouth in July 2010
New Plymouth is located in Taranaki Region
New Plymouth
New Plymouth
Location in Taranaki Region
New Plymouth is located in North Island
New Plymouth
New Plymouth
Location in North Island
New Plymouth is located in New Zealand
New Plymouth
New Plymouth
Location in New Zealand
Country New Zealand
Region Taranaki
Territorial authority New Plymouth District
Settled 31 March 1841
NZ Parliament New Plymouth
Te Tai Hauāuru (Māori)
 • Territorial 2,205.6 km2 (851.6 sq mi)
 • Territorial 88,900
 • Density 40.306/km2 (104.39/sq mi)
 • Urban
Time zone UTC+12 (NZST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC+13 (NZDT)
4310, 4312
Area code(s) 06

New Plymouth (Māori: [Ngāmotu] Error: {{Lang}}: text has italic markup (help)) is the major city of the Taranaki region on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand. It is named after the English city of Plymouth, Devon from where the first English settlers to New Plymouth migrated. The New Plymouth District, which includes New Plymouth City and several smaller towns, is the 10th largest district (out of 67) in New Zealand, and has a population of 88,900 – about two-thirds of the total population of the Taranaki Region and 1.7% of New Zealand's population. This includes New Plymouth City (59,600), Waitara (7,550), Inglewood (3,870), Ōakura (1,730), Ōkato (561) and Urenui (429).

The city itself is a service centre for the region's principal economic activities including intensive pastoral activities (mainly dairy farming) as well as oil, natural gas and petrochemical exploration and production. It is also the region's financial centre as the home of the TSB Bank (formerly the Taranaki Savings Bank), the largest of the remaining non-government New Zealand-owned banks.

Notable features are the botanic garden (i.e. Pukekura Park), the critically acclaimed Len Lye Centre and Art Gallery, the 13 km (8.1 mi) New Plymouth Coastal Walkway alongside the Tasman Sea, the Len Lye-designed 45-metre-tall (148 ft) artwork known as the Wind Wand, Paritutu Rock, and views of Mount Taranaki.

New Plymouth was awarded the most liveable city (for a population between 75,000-150,000) by the International Awards for Liveable Communities in 2021. It also won multiple awards in 2008. The city was in 2010 chosen as one of two walking & cycling "Model Communities" by the government. Based on New Plymouth's already positive attitude towards cyclists and pedestrians, the city received $3.71m to invest into infrastructure and community programs to boost walking and cycling.

It is also noted for being a coastal city with a mountain within 30 minutes drive, where residents and visitors to New Plymouth can snowboard, ski, water ski and surf all in the same day.


In 1828 Richard "Dicky" Barrett (1807–47) set up a trading post at Ngamotu after arriving on the trading vessel Adventure. Barrett traded with the local Māori and helped negotiate the purchase of land from them on behalf of the New Zealand Company. Settlers were selected by the Plymouth Company, which was set up to attract emigrants from the West Country of England, and which took over land initially purchased by the New Zealand Company. The first of the town's settlers arrived on the William Bryan, which anchored off the coast on 31 March 1841. A series of disputes over ownership and settlement of land developed between Māori and settlers soon after and New Plymouth became a fortified garrison town in 1860–1861 as more than 3500 Imperial soldiers, as well as local volunteers and militia, fought Māori in the First Taranaki War.

Growth and governance

New Plymouth Province

The New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 created the New Plymouth Province, with a Provincial Council given jurisdiction over an area of 400,000ha. Five years later the name of the province changed to Taranaki Province. The province was abolished in 1876.

Borough/City of New Plymouth

Crest of the City of New Plymouth, Taranaki
New Plymouth City Council Coat-of-Arms as used from 1949

A Town Board was formed in 1863 and in August 1876 the town was constituted as a borough. Its new status did little to overcome some outside perceptions, however. In 1876 author E. W. Payton wrote that "all the great bustling 'cities' of the colony had a patronising way of trying to snub New Plymouth, referring to it in such derogatory terms as the dullest hole in the colony ... nothing whatever to do there... I find a great liking for this 'slow, old hole' ... it is a quiet, unassuming place and has not done so much to attract immigrants and settlers by exaggerating reports, as some districts have done."

The Fitzroy Town District was merged with New Plymouth borough in August 1911; Vogeltown, Frankleigh Park and Westown were added a year later, followed by St Aubyn-Moturoa. By 1913 the town had a population of 7538. Seafront land was added in 1931 and 1941; land acquired on Omata Rd was added in 1955 and in 1960 large areas including land to the south of Paritutu, as well as Hurdon, Ferndale and Huatoki were included, as well as land straddling Mangorei Rd between the Henui Stream and Waiwakaiho River.

New Plymouth was declared a city in 1949.

New Plymouth District Council

In 1989, as a part of New Zealand-wide reorganisation of local government, New Plymouth City Council was merged with Taranaki District Council (Taranaki County Council and Waitara Borough merged in 1986), Inglewood District Council (Inglewood Borough and County merged in 1986), and Clifton County Council to form New Plymouth District Council.

Every three years the Mayor, 14 councillors and 16 community board members are elected by the New Plymouth District's enrolled voters. The full council, sub-committees and standing committees meet on a six-weekly cycle.

The Policy and Monitoring standing committees have delegated authority from the council to make final decisions on certain matters, and they make recommendations to the council on all others. The four community boards–Clifton, Waitara, Inglewood and Kaitake–as well as the subcommittees and working parties can make recommendations to the standing committees for them to consider.

The third standing committee, the Hearings Commission, is a quasi-judicial body that meets whenever a formal hearing is required–for instance, to hear submissions on a publicly notified resource consent application.

The Chief Executive (currently Mrs Barbara McKerrow) and approximately 460 full-time equivalent staff provide advice and information to the elected members and the public, implement council decisions and manage the district's day-to-day operations.

This includes everything from maintaining more than 280 parks and reserves, waste water management and issuing consents and permits, through to providing libraries and other recreational services and ensuring the district's eateries meet health standards.

New Plymouth District Council's annual operating revenue for 2008/2009 is more than $188 million.

The current Mayor of New Plymouth is Andrew Judd. In May 2016 Judd announced that he will not run for mayor again in the upcoming local government elections.

City suburbs

From west to east

  • Strandon
  • Highlands Park
  • Merrilands
  • Fitzroy
  • Waiwhakaiho
  • Glen Avon

Satellite settlements

New Plymouth Airport

New Plymouth Airport (IATA: NPL, ICAO: NZNP) serves the city of New Plymouth, and the surrounding region of Taranaki. It is located on the coast, 11 km from the city centre, and 4 km from the outer suburb/satellite town of Bell Block.

It is the 7th busiest airport in New Zealand, with scheduled Air New Zealand services to Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington. New Plymouth airport also has daily services with budget airline Jetstar to Auckland with domestic and international links.


An 18 km (11 mi) railway link between New Plymouth and Waitara was completed in 1875; this later became the Waitara Branch. The next year, work began on a line south to Stratford, which was reached in 1879, followed by Hāwera in 1881. This line, known as the Marton - New Plymouth Line, was completed on 23 March 1885, and when the Wellington - Manawatu Line of the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company was opened on 3 November 1886, a direct railway link was established to Wellington. The original routing through the centre of the town was replaced in 1907 by an alignment along the foreshore, which remains today. The New Plymouth Express passenger train began operating on this route in December 1886. In 1926, it was augmented by the Taranaki Flyer for the run between New Plymouth and Wanganui, A direct railway route to Auckland was not established until 1932, when the Stratford–Okahukura Line was completed; the next year, when the line was handed over from the Public Works Department to the New Zealand Railways Department, the New Plymouth Night Express began operating to Auckland. All carriage trains were replaced by RM class Standard and 88 seater railcars by 1956. The Wanganui service ceased in 1959; the Auckland service was truncated to terminate in Taumarunui from 1971; and the Wellington service was cancelled on 30 July 1977. On 11 February 1978, the Taumarunui railcar was replaced by a passenger train, but it was ultimately cancelled on 21 January 1983. Since this date, the only passenger trains to operate to New Plymouth have been infrequent excursions operated by railway preservation societies.

The breakwater at Ngamotu was completed in 1883, providing safe berthage for vessels, and the Moturoa wharf was completed in 1888. Port Taranaki is a critical transport link for the region and the only deep water port on the west coast of New Zealand.

In 1916 the city's electric tramway system began and petrol-powered buses began running four years later. The tramway system was closed in 1954. It was replaced by trolley buses which operated until 1967.

The first aircraft landed at the racecourse in 1920 and commercial flights began using the airport at Bell Block in June 1937. During World War II this grass airfield became RNZAF Bell Block; and was replaced in 1966 by the current tarmac airport, 3 km (1.9 mi) NE of the old airport site.

Features and attractions

Te Rewa Rewa1
Te Rewa Rewa Bridge which immediately became a symbol of the extensive cycling opportunities that have been created in and around New Plymouth.
Coastal Walkway in New Plymouth
Coastal Walkway in New Plymouth

New Plymouth District has a reputation as an events centre, with major festivals (the annual TSB Bank Festival of Lights, Taranaki Powerco Garden Spectacular, WOMAD and the biennial Taranaki Arts Festival), sports fixtures (including international rugby, surfing, cricket and tennis matches, and the annual ITU World Cup Triathlon) and concerts (from Sir Elton John, Jack Johnson, REM, John Farnham and Fleetwood Mac).

With its rich volcanic soil, the city is well known for its gardens. Chief among them are the 52 ha Pukekura Park in the centre of the city (named a Garden of National Significance), and Pukeiti, a rhododendron garden of international significance high on the Pouakai Range.

Pukekura Park is also the home of the TSB Bank Festival of Lights, which runs for free every year from mid-December to early February. It has daytime and night time programmes of events for people of all ages, and the festival itself transforms the park into an illuminated wonderland every evening.

Next to the foreshore in the central city is Puke Ariki – the world's first purpose-built, fully integrated museum, library and information centre.

Nearby is the Len Lye Centre a contemporary art museum. It includes the Len Lye Centre, a purpose-built centre next to the gallery that houses the collection of film maker and kinetic artist Len Lye, which opened in 2015, making New Plymouth the world centre for Len Lye. This museum is the first in the world to be completely dedicated to one person.

The Coastal Walkway is a 13 km path that forms an expansive sea-edge promenade stretching almost the entire length of the city, from the Bell Block mouth in the east to Port Taranaki in the west. The pathway includes the iconic Te Rewa Rewa Bridge and is ideal for walking, running, cycling or skating, or simply enjoying the view of the dramatic west coast. It has won numerous awards, including the Cycle Friendly Award in 2008 for the best New Zealand cycle facility.

Centre City Shopping Centre is the only shopping mall in New Plymouth. It contains over 65 shops and services.


New Plymouth won the Top Town award from North and South Magazine in 2008 (judged "the best place in New Zealand to live, love, work and raise a family").

The city also won three awards at the 11th International Awards for Liveable Communities held in Dongguan, China, 6–10 November 2008:

  • Whole City Gold award (population category 20,000 – 75,000)
  • Criteria award for Community Sustainability
  • Gold award for community project (natural) – the Coastal Walkway.


New Plymouth has an oceanic climate that could be described as a moist, temperate climate. The average summer afternoon temperature is 21–22 °C (70–72 °F); average summer night-time temperature is 12–13 °C (54–55 °F). The city experiences mild winters, where the average afternoon temperature is 13–14 °C (55–57 °F) and night-time temperature is 5–6 °C (41–43 °F). The average annual rainfall is 1,432 mm (56.4 in). On 15 August 2011 it snowed in New Plymouth, a rare event which has been described as a once in a generation occurrence. Schools were given the day off and workplaces dismissed due to the significance of the event.

Climate data for New Plymouth (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 30.6
Average high °C (°F) 21.7
Daily mean °C (°F) 17.8
Average low °C (°F) 13.8
Record low °C (°F) 4.2
Average precipitation mm (inches) 114.5
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 8.9 7.7 9.8 9.8 12.3 13.6 12.6 13.4 12.6 14.1 10.5 9.5 135.5
Average relative humidity (%) 80.9 82.5 81.8 82.4 85.4 86.1 85.7 84.4 82.7 82.8 80.1 81.4 83.1
Mean monthly sunshine hours 248.4 225.0 212.8 177.8 143.9 118.1 138.0 162.7 162.6 189.6 206.9 211.6 2,197.2
Source 1: NIWA Climate Data
Source 2: Météo Climat

Sister cities


Historical population
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
2006 49,395 —    
2013 52,872 +0.98%
2018 57,219 +1.59%

New Plymouth's City Ward, which covers 2,205.6 km2 (851.6 sq mi), had a population of 57,219 at the 2018 New Zealand census, an increase of 4,347 people (8.2%) since the 2013 census, and an increase of 7,824 people (15.8%) since the 2006 census. There were 22,269 households. There were 27,870 males and 29,346 females, giving a sex ratio of 0.95 males per female. The median age was 40.8 years (compared with 37.4 years nationally), with 11,220 people (19.6%) aged under 15 years, 9,831 (17.2%) aged 15 to 29, 25,251 (44.1%) aged 30 to 64, and 10,917 (19.1%) aged 65 or older.

Ethnicities were 84.9% European/Pākehā, 15.9% Māori, 2.4% Pacific peoples, 6.6% Asian, and 2.2% other ethnicities (totals add to more than 100% since people could identify with multiple ethnicities).

The proportion of people born overseas was 18.1%, compared with 27.1% nationally.

Although some people objected to giving their religion, 50.7% had no religion, 37.3% were Christian, 1.1% were Hindu, 0.7% were Muslim, 0.6% were Buddhist and 2.4% had other religions.

Of those at least 15 years old, 8,880 (19.3%) people had a bachelor or higher degree, and 8,919 (19.4%) people had no formal qualifications. The median income was $30,500, compared with $31,800 nationally. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 21,486 (46.7%) people were employed full-time, 7,098 (15.4%) were part-time, and 1,755 (3.8%) were unemployed.


There are schools in Fitzroy, Frankleigh Park, Hurdon, Lynmouth, Mangorei, Marfell, Merrilands, Moturoa, Spotswood, Strandon, Vogeltown, Welbourn, Westown and Brooklands. The Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki has its main campus in Welbourn.

New Plymouth Boys' High School and New Plymouth Girls' High School are single-sex secondary (years 9–13) schools with rolls of 1430 and 1308 respectively. The Boys' High School was founded in 1882, and the Girls' High School separated from it in 1914.

Francis Douglas Memorial College and Sacred Heart Girls' College, state-integrated catholic boys and girls schools (Years 7–13) respectively, while Spotswood College in the western suburbs is the only co-educational secondary school in the city.

Notable people


  • Zena Daysh (1914–2011), influential in the human ecology movement, founder of the Commonwealth Human Ecology Council
  • David Gauld (1942–present), president of the New Zealand Mathematical Society 1981–82
  • Leila Hurle (1901–1989), schoolteacher, schools inspector
  • Michael Kelly (1949–present), Prince Philip Professor of Technology, University of Cambridge
  • Professor Emeritus David Penny (1939–present), third New Zealander to be named a National Academy of Sciences foreign associate
  • Harry Skinner (1886–1978), soldier, ethnologist, university lecturer, museum curator and director, librarian; the H.D. Skinner Annex of the Otago Museum, was opened in August 2013, and named in honour of Skinner
  • William Skinner (1857–1946), surveyor, historian, and ethnographer; founder of Puke Ariki, co-founder of the Polynesian Society
  • Beatrice Tinsley (1941–1981), astronomer and cosmologist
  • Neil Waters (1931–2018), inorganic chemist, academic administrator, served as vice-chancellor of Massey University (1983–1995)



  • Maurice Bramley (1898–1975), cartoonist and commercial artist
  • Keith Waite (1927–2014), editorial cartoonist, referred to as one of the 'greatest-ever social and political cartoonists' in Britain


  • Melanie Lynskey (1977–present), actress
  • Anthony McCarten (1961–present), author, playwright and screenwriter
  • John O'Shea (1920–2001), director, producer, writer and actor, produced the only three feature films that were made in New Zealand between 1940 and 1970
  • Jared Turner (1978–present), actor


  • Hayden Chisholm (1975–present), saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist
  • Graeme Jefferies, musician
  • Peter Jefferies, musician
  • Midge Marsden (1945–present), blues and R&B guitarist, harmonica-player, and singer
  • Wayne Mason (1949–present), musician
  • Desna Sisarich (1946–present), pop singer, one of New Zealand's first woman singer/songwriters
  • Matt Thomas (1973–present), musician
  • Stan Walker (1990–present), Australian Idol winner


  • Trent Keegan (1974–2008), photojournalist

Performing arts

  • Stuart Hoar (1957–present), playwright, teacher, novelist, radio dramatist and librettist
  • Brian McNeill (born 1939), playwright, actor, and director

Visual arts

  • Barry Brickell (1935–2016), potter, writer, conservationist and founder of Driving Creek Railway
  • Dale Copeland (1943–present), collage and assemblage artist
  • Joan Dukes (1903–1993), artist and illustrator
  • Christine Hellyar (1947–present), artist who makes sculptures and installations
  • Michael Smither (1939–present), painter and composer, set the record for the most expensive painting sold that was painted by a living New Zealand artist
  • Francis Upritchard (1976–present), contemporary artist based in London, she represented New Zealand at the Venice Biennale


  • Helen Brown (1945–present), author and columnist
  • John Guthrie (1905–1955), journalist and novelist
  • Michele Leggott (1956–present), poet, academic
  • Ian Middleton (1927–2007), novelist


  • Daisy Basham (1879–1963), radio personality
  • Mark Crysell (1961–present), former TVNZ Europe correspondent and current Sunday reporter
  • Patrick Gower (1976/1977–present), journalist and National Correspondent for Newshub
  • Jim Hickey (1949–present), weather presenter
  • Derryn Hinch (1944–present), Australian media personality, politician, actor, journalist and author, best known for his work on Melbourne radio and television. He served as a Senator for Victoria from 2016 to 2019.
  • Marama Martin (1930–2017), television and radio broadcaster. She was the first person seen on colour television in New Zealand, and was the last person to appear on NZBC TV
  • Denzil Meuli (1926–2019), writer, former newspaper editor, Roman Catholic priest of the Diocese of Auckland and a leading traditionalist Catholic in New Zealand
  • John McBeth (1944–present), author and journalist
  • Toni Street (1983–present), television presenter and sports commentator


  • Tim Besley (1927–present), engineer, businessman and former senior public servant
  • Trish Gregory, fashion designer and businesswoman
  • Newton King (1855–1927), auctioneer, merchant and businessman. One of the founders of the Crown Dairy Company. By 1897, it was New Zealand second largest dairy product company.



  • Evelyn Brooke (1879–1962), civilian and military nurse, served during the First World War and was the only New Zealand nurse to receive the Royal Red Cross and Bar
  • Tony Parr (1955–present), former Chief of the Royal New Zealand Navy Rear Admiral
  • Bert Wipiti (1922–1943), fighter pilot and flying ace of the Second World War, first Māori airman to leave New Zealand for active duty


  • William Douglas Cook (1884–1967), founder of Eastwoodhill Arboretum, now the national arboretum of New Zealand; one of the founders of Pukeiti, a rhododendron garden


  • Peter Quilliam (1920–2004), Chief Justice of the Cook Islands, judge of the High Court of New Zealand
  • John Edwards, UK Information Commissioner


  • Emma Jane Richmond (1845–1921), community and religious worker, pioneer of anthroposophy in New Zealand



  • Michael Aish (1976–present), athlete



  • Lachlan Boshier (1994–present), rugby union player
  • Beauden Barrett (1991–present), rugby union player
  • Jordie Barrett (1997–present), rugby union player
  • Kane Barrett (1990–present), rugby union player
  • Scott Barrett (1993–present), rugby union player
  • Michaela Blyde (1995–present), rugby sevens player
  • Shane Cleaver (1987–present), rugby union player
  • Kendra Cocksedge (1988–present), rugby union player and cricketer
  • Liam Coltman (1990–present), rugby union player
  • Grant Fox (1962–present), rugby union player
  • Scott Fuglistaller (1987–present), rugby union player
  • Du'Plessis Kirifi (1997–present), rugby union player
  • Deacon Manu (1979–present), rugby union player
  • John Mitchell (1964–present), rugby union coach and former player
  • Leon Power (1986–present), rugby union player
  • Ricky Riccitelli (1995–present), rugby union player
  • Conrad Smith (1981–present), rugby union coach and former player
  • Willie Talau (1976–present), rugby league footballer
  • Paul Tito (1978–present), rugby union player
  • Roger Urbahn (1934–1984), rugby union player
  • Teihorangi Walden (1993–present), rugby union player
  • Paul Williams (1985–present), rugby union referee


  • Frank van Hattum (1958–present), international football player
  • Frank Albrechtsen (1932 - 2021), international football player


  • Paige Hareb (1990–present), professional surfer


  • Charles Armitage Brown (1787–1842), close friend of the poet John Keats, as well as being a friend of artist Joseph Severn, Leigh Hunt, Thomas Jefferson Hogg, Walter Savage Landor and Edward John Trelawny. He was the father of Charles Brown, a pioneer and politician of New Plymouth.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Nueva Plymouth para niños

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