Katherine needed to be in New Plymouth for work today so we decided to make a long weekend of it and see what this place has to offer.
I have roots here. My grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins lived here so I remember as a child being bundled into the Holden Kingswood and coming up from Palmerston North to do the visitations. EVERY holiday (it seemed). The weird thing for me is that I have strong memories of certain places – Pukekura Park, the miniature railway enthusiasts club on Gilbert St, the building where Bennetts (?) Bookshop once inhabited (and I was unjustly accused of shoplifting by an undercover store detective – oh the outrage of a 7 year old boy) and yet I have little or no memory of the waterfront.
I wonder if my parents were just doing the family thing and the idea of taking us kids out and exploring was a bit much? Who knows. I might ask them next time I see them…
Ah the reminiscing.
OK. What was I talking about? That’s right: exploring New Plymouth.
First recommendation. Don’t get a hire car. Catch a taxi into town and then get amongst it all on foot. We would have missed so much if we drove everywhere and we would have developed a much different perspective.
We walked along the Coastal Walkway. We hired bikes and rode along the Coastal Walkway. We found pop-up markets, and farmers markets, and were able to get a good feel for this place. People were/are friendly. You couldn’t walk past someone without a smile or a ‘good morning’. People were chatty.
We walked from the CBD to Paritutu Rock. We climbed Paritutu Rock. I was determined to do this as I don’t recall having every done it in my youth.
We were taken by the Len Lye centre at the Govett Brewster gallery. I loved the kinetic sculpture on display as well as the other exhibits. Definitely a must-see.
We managed to see the last evening of the annual Festival of Lights at Pukekura Park. It was cool seeing what they create and nice to see the locals getting out and about.
One thing that struck me is that there is a pride here. And a definite style. Many shops had fantastic interior fitouts and the eateries looked great and served up equally great food. We didn’t have one bad experience.
A quick review:
Joe’s Garage – as you’d expect. US diner fare in a cool setting. Good coffee.
The Black Harp – Irish pub. Good food, drink, music and sports on the big screen.
Peggy Gordons – Irish bar. Same deal. Good food, drink, music and sports on the big screen. This one definitely is one for the locals.
Frederics – Bar. Good food, big craft beer selection. More than one type of gin. Nice vibe.
Kathakali – Southern Indian fare. Great vibe. Authentic flavours. I was really impressed by this restaurant.
Monica’s Eatery – we went here for breakfast on two days. Loved the ambience and the food was good. Excellent coffee too.
Manou’s Café – If we had not been walking we would not have found this place. It’s awesome. Rustic. Nautical. Views of the boat ramp and is right on the water. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in town. It’s right next to a hire company where you can obtain SUPs and Kayaks and go explore.
Prohibition – I loved this burger joint. Everything about the decor and the food was terrific. It would certainly give the best of Auckland burger makers a run for their money.
And my favourite? Social Kitchen. This was utterly fantastic. It’s meat. It’s social dining and shared plates. It’s flavours. It’s ambience. It’s great music playing. We had their spiced goat (I’ve not eaten goat before) and it was sublime. I like my food and this restaurant ticked all my boxes. It could even be making a run for my ‘favourite ever place to eat’ trophy. It’s that good.
We realised early on that New Plymouth eateries are popular, probably because they’re excellent. You need to book. Otherwise you won’t get in to the places you’ve been recommended.
We stayed at the State Hotel. It was really nice. The decor was eclectic and the weird thing was you never really saw anybody unless you happened across the cleaning staff. Its central location was perfect for us. Definitely recommended.
I have really enjoyed my time in New Plymouth. That’s now two of my childhood towns visited in recent weeks, and quite frankly New Plymouth makes Palmerston North look even worse. I’m now not sure why my parents left here and didn’t return.
New Plymouth has so much to offer, and it was nice seeing that even the youth here are excited about their town.
I haven’t mentioned the housing prices – they’re really good – so if you’re considering getting the hell out of Auckland you could do a lot worse.
Not bad, New Plymouth. Not bad at all.
All flights out of NPL were cancelled yesterday so we had to stay another night. (terrible, I know!!).
The State Hotel was fully booked so we went to the King and Queen Hotel Suites. This place is magical. From the second we arrived we were transported to relaxation. I am so impressed with its decor, vibe and staffing. All top-grade.
I have no hesitation in recommending this as a quality place to stay.
The hospitality group behind much of the redevelopment and establishment of hotels, bars and restaurants in the West End of New Plymouth need to be acknowledged and applauded. Their investment in this town is invaluable.