You beauty!

Words by  Irena Brooks
Guy Vickers Guy Vickers

We all know it, and in November it became official – New Plymouth is New Zealand’s most beautiful small city. 

In the awards run by Keep New Zealand Beautiful, New Plymouth demonstrated “huge progress with their environmental initiatives over the past year thanks to an engaged and passionate community and the council actively working with local iwi to provide input into environmental changes,” said Keep New Zealand Beautiful CEO Heather Saunderson.

That announcement was quickly followed by the Centuria Garden Festival being named as New Zealand’s favourite event by the New Zealand Events Association.  The 10-day festival that boasts the best gardens Taranaki has to offer, attracts thousands of visitors from around the country and beat out 39 rivals to be named the country’s favourite event of 2023. 

Meanwhile, Pukekura Park quietly bagged its 11th annual Green Flag award in a row, marking it as one of the world’s best parks. Experts assess a park for a Green Flag award on 27 criteria, including horticultural standards, cleanliness, sustainability, community involvement and providing a warm welcome.

The park is also a 5 Star Garden of National Significance, as judged by the New Zealand Gardens Trust. 

The latest accolades  sit alongside the LIVCOM World’s Most Liveable City (pop. 75,000 – 150,000) award New Plymouth nabbed in 2021 – the second time it has picked up this title (the first time was in 2008 in the pop. under 75,000 category). 

The judging criteria focused on enhancement of landscapes and public spaces, arts, culture and heritage management, environmental protection, community participation and empowerment, healthy lifestyle and sustainable planning and management.

New Plymouth also won a special, and shared award, for Healthy Lifestyle.

Crowned as New Zealand’s sunniest region in 2021 (2592 hours) and 2022 (2659 hours), the wider Taranaki region looks to have cemented its place in the top four for 2023 as well.

The current El Niño weather pattern will likely intensify over the next three months, according to NIWA. Temperatures are likely to be near, or above, average with rainfall likely to be around, or slightly below, normal.

Seasonal wind speeds are expected to be stronger than usual so this is expected to be a great summer for surfers, wind and kite surfers. Swimmers may want to explore sheltered spots along the Waiwhakaiho River like Meeting of the Waters, or some of the swimming holes along Te Henui Stream.

New Plymouth’s Aquatic Centre (cover shot) is gorgeous when there is a howling southerly or sou’wester plus it offers indoor swimming options too.

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