New Plymouth is the headquarers of the Taranaki, and is a fair size town on the western seabord of New Zealand's North Island. A few special characterisitics makes this town significant. The first obvious one is the close proximity to Mt Taranaki - and old active volcano that sits on the edge of the North Island. Mt Taranaki has significant Maori cultural value, which is evident from the vehement objection to adverse treatment of the mountain. Apart from that, Mt Taranaki forms the perfect backdrop to almost infinite beautiful vistas from almost any area close by.
By now New Zealand is famous as the location for the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films (with locations all over New Zealand), but a little known fact is that the epic movie "The Last Samurai" was also filmed in New Zealand, and more specifically in the Taranaki region.
New Plymouth is the heart of the current gas and oil fields, and consequently the most prosperous per-capita town in New Zealand. New Plymouth has good access roads (three to be precise), a fair sized dometic airport, and a very important harbour. Industry in New Plymouth are focused on the gas and oil industry, with heavy support industries based in and around the harbour area.
In spite of the heavy industry in the region, the Taranaki is breathtakingly beautiful. New Plymouth has a range of antique (well, in New Zealand terms!) buildings, with the heart of the city brandishing samples of an era gone by. The botanical gardens is a definite must-see, as well as the garden festival in November. To date, the garden festival is the biggest and most prolific garden event on the southern hemisphere calender. New Plymouth also sports a healthy and vibrant night life, despite its isolation from the main centres.
A trip around the mountain will deliver you to delights such as the Cape Egmont Lighthouse, numerous good surfing beaches, wonderful forests and unique vistas.
So, if you do decide to give New Plymouth a spot on your travel intineray, make sure it is not a drive-through event, but spend some time! You ill not be dissappointed!