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8 things to do with teenagers in New Plymouth

8 things to do with teenagers in New Plymouth

A short break is my favourite sort of break so when the chance came up to drop Soph’s friend back in New Plymouth and spend 48 hours there I jumped at the chance.  Also, with children who are now 15, 16 and 17 I know that they are not going to want to go on road trips with me forever so I love every chance I get to travel with them.  

So why do I love a short break so much?  It hones your senses - and makes you not waste time and appreciate everything.  The apathy and procrastination simply doesn’t exist when you are only there for a few days.  If you are like me you wake up early and go to bed late to squeeze in all the extra moments.  And, if you love something you can always come back again.  But then again, it's a little bit like the Road Less Travelled poem - invariably you don’t.  This is my third visit to New Plymouth.  Every time a short break.  Every time I find spots I love that I swear I’m coming back to.  Some of them I do, and sometimes I find new things to love.

Enough waffling from me (I do like a good waffle - which you may have noticed).  Here’s the top 8 things we found to make an epic short adventure with teenagers in New Plymouth.

Trek out to The Three Sisters and the Elephant

The Three Sisters have been on my list of places to visit since the first time we visited New Plymouth in 2017.  The first time we had 3 still quite young children and the second time James and I were playing shopkeepers in New Plymouth for the weekend so were short on time.  But procrastination has its cost.  What once was four sisters, became three sisters and is now only two 25 metre rock formations.  Locals call her the drowning sister.  The nearby Elephant Rock has also lost its trunk to erosion. 

The Three Sisters is all about timing.  To walk to see these amazing rock formations you need to go at low tide.  And so it happened in a moment of serendipity as we came in to New Plymouth on our third trip with my now teenage daughters that we had arrived without any planning exactly at low tide.

The walk to get there is not without it’s challenges with mud and scorching black sand to contend with - but that just makes it better when you get there.  It’s a rugged, beautiful spot with some wonderful rock formations that time has shown will not be here forever, so if you get the chance and the timing is right it is well worth going for an explore.

3 sisters

Stay at Nice Hotel

Nice Hotel is exactly the type of hotel I love!  It’s quirky mixed with a bit of old-world charm.  It has riotous colour and little hidden surprises everywhere you go.  It has amazing customer service (including a pack of free “Nice” biscuits to go with your hot chocolate at night).

We stayed in the Pukekura room which had a Queen sized bed and a fold out sofa bed - which was perfect for me and my two teenage daughters.  We had our own private access to a courtyard (complete with an outdoor chandelier which will always win my heart) and a winding pathway up to the dining area.  

Nice Hotel

Go for a waterfront walk

I always find the West Coast so vast.  Living on the North Shore in Auckland I am so used to a sea view that includes many islands, volcanoes and the distant smudge of the Coromandel Peninsula.  The vastness, combined with the black sand and swirling seas of New Plymouth adds to the rugged beauty of this place.

New Plymouth Waterfront

New Plymouths waterfront is perfect for walking or biking and alongside the vast view it has loads of sculptures along the path.

Eat at the Liardet Street Projects

This is where travelling with a local really came in handy and this suggestion came from Sophia’s friend.  The Liardet Street Projects are one of those hidden secrets that you are likely to walk right past.  It’s tucked away in central New Plymouth with an uninspiring street frontage (but the amazing smell may be enough to drag you in).  Inside you will find a communal courtyard and a range of food trucks and stalls offering a wide range of street food and cheap eats.  It’s a great place to go with teenagers who all have different favourites!

Liardet Street Project

Go to Lake Mangamahoe to get the best view of Mount Taranaki

We found this the first time by accident when playing the Road Trip Edition of the Getting Lost Game, and the second time on purpose once the clouds cleared around Mount Taranaki.  It’s a super easy walk up to the lookout and it really is a sensational view!

Mount Taranaki

Have a swim at Oakura River.  

This little swimming spot is about 10 minutes out of town down Surf Highway and has an inlet that is beautifully clear and deep and amazing for a dip on a 29 degree day like the one we had when we were there.

Watch the sunset from a vineyard

I have instilled my love of a good vineyard in my kids and they, like me, get excited when we see a sign for a vineyard.  Why do I love vineyards so much?  Well obviously the wine (and no, this is not on the kids lists).  But it’s the grandeur and scale that most vineyards have.  The remote locations they find themselves in.  The wonderful food.  The relaxed vibe.  And, I actually find them surprisingly good value for money.  So of course we pulled in to explore.  

The Vineyard Bistro does not disappoint.  It is perched literally on a cliff - looking out over endless west coast ocean.  The deck wrapped around the double storied restaurant - perfect for watching the sun set.  There’s a playground (which my kids are definitely not too old to try) and a perfect winding road through the vines.  It was closed when we arrived the first time so we jumped on the website and booked ourselves a table for later on that night - with the added bonus that we’d get to watch the sun set.

Here’s where the value equation kicks in for me…. We spent 2 hours there that night and watched the sky change before our eyes.  Out one window the never ending vista of the ocean.  On the other, the reflection of the sunset as it set around Mount Taranaki.  We had amazing meals and the kids had mocktails while I tried one of the vineyards wines.  And all of that cost us $122.  Yes, it’s not as cheap as fish and chips on the beach but for the experience and how amazing it was - I reckon it’s pretty good value.

Play amongst the lights in Pukekura Park

There’s something about the night time that gives teenagers permission to play again.  Maybe its the anonymity of the dark.  Maybe it’s just cool and exciting.  What ever it was, our kids were straight on the park with the lights shining around them.  The park is vast and the lights just blow your mind.  We spent a couple of hours exploring through the park and its an epic free night out in New Plymouth in Summer.


I always say a good mark of a city is if you google houses to buy while you are there.  So as I sat there watching the sunset from my spot at the Vineyard that was definitely what I was doing!

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