NZ's BEST KEPT se­cret

Go Travel New Zealand - - Taranaki -

For a long time New Ply­mouth and the beau­ti­ful Taranaki re­gion have been one of New Zealand’s best kept se­crets. But then Lonely Planet named it as the 2nd best re­gion in the whole world to visit and well and truly let the cat out of the bag!

Feel­ing that it was time my part­ner and I saw for our­selves what ev­ery­one has been miss­ing, I booked our flights for a 2 day, 2 night es­cape. (New Ply­mouth is ser­viced by sev­eral di­rect flights each day from Welling­ton, Auck­land and Christchurch so very easy to get to).

The re­gion is well-served by ac­com­mo­da­tion providers for all levels of budget but I wanted some­thing a lit­tle bit spe­cial for our trip so the 2-night din­ner, bed and break­fast of­fer at the Nice Hotel in the heart of the city was the per­fect choice. The pack­age also in­cluded an art lunch and tour of the Govett-Brew­ster Art Gallery/Len Lye Cen­tre op­tion or­ga­nized by Dis­cover Taranaki. As this ac­claimed art gallery was firmly on our must-do list, it was a match made in heaven.

After 40 min­utes in the air from Auck­land and a 10 minute taxi ride, we ar­rived at our charm­ing bou­tique hotel which wouldn’t be out of place in down­town Man­hat­tan or Lon­don’s Con­vent Gar­den. A drink on the beau­ti­ful deck sur­rounded by trop­i­cal gar­den was the per­fect way to un­wind be­fore head­ing into the hotel’s restau­rant Ta­ble for din­ner. I chose the mar­ket fish of the day while my part­ner couldn’t go past the trio of lamb – both dishes de­li­cious. The dessert menu was par­tic­u­larly en­tic­ing and so we treated our­selves to a ba­nanas fos­ter and a dark choco­late delice then a port in the up­stairs li­brary be­fore sink­ing into our very com­fort­able bed.

Our bat­ter­ies recharged, after break­fast we strolled along the fore­shore on the award-win­ning Coastal Walk­way be­fore our art & lunch tour. View­ing the iconic Len Lye Wind Wand and Howard Tuf­fery's Light on the Land along the way set us up won­der­fully for our Govett-Brew­ster Gallery ex­pe­ri­ence.

Our tour guide Josh re­ally bought the ex­hi­bi­tions and art­works alive for us in a way we would have missed just walk­ing around by our­selves. He also proved to be a font of knowl­edge about the his­tory of the gallery, opened in an unused cin­ema in 1970 and now rec­og­nized in­ter­na­tion­ally for con­tem­po­rary art. The ad­ja­cent Len Lye Gallery, with its stun­ning re­flec­tive ex­te­rior de­signed by ar­chi­tect An­drew Pat­ter­son, gave us the op­por­tu­nity to see the amaz­ing work Tril­ogy in all its boom­ing, shak­ing glory. Then it was next door to Mon­ica's Eatery for a de­li­cious lunch.

We de­cided to ex­plore the city’s shop­ping po­ten­tial as we made our way back to the hotel – and dis­cov­ered a plethora of sweet lit­tle cloth­ing bou­tiques, de­signer stores, art and de­sign gal­leries and in­te­rior de­sign treasure troves.

The next day saw us head out for a his­tor­i­cal walk­ing tour of the city. Start­ing in the gal­leries at Puke Ariki, New Ply­mouth’s mu­seum, li­brary and vis­i­tor in­for­ma­tion cen­tre, our guide Mike re­counted sto­ries which helped us pic­ture the days when the set­tlers first ar­rived in the town, no doubt ap­pre­hen­sive of what they might find and how they were to build their lives here.

We then strolled around the town, tak­ing in the much trea­sured Cathe­dral of St Mary and its fas­ci­nat­ing his­tor­i­cal grave­yard and the town’s 150 year old for­bod­ing stone prison along the way.

Through­out the two hour tour, Mike pointed out places of in­ter­est and re­ally brought the lo­cal his­tory to life for us, giv­ing us a whole new per­spec­tive on the town and what it was like to live in dur­ing some most chal­leng­ing times. A bonus was the in­for­ma­tive take home book­let which was part of the pack­age. Then it was time for a de­li­cious lunch at the pop­u­lar award-win­ning Ar­bo­rio restau­rant in the Puke Ariki foyer over­look­ing the Coastal Walk­way.

The tour is an­other ex­pe­ri­ence of­fered by Dis­cover Taranaki and we highly rec­om­mend their pack­ages.

We then spent a pleas­ant hour or so brows­ing Puke Ariki’s fas­ci­nat­ing longterm gal­leries and tem­po­rary ex­hi­bi­tion space, be­fore our es­cape was over and it was time to go home.

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