Pukekura Park - New Plymouth

This was originally posted on our old blog in 2018. I have edited the content slightly to make it more up to date.

When I travelled to New Plymouth I was so surprised by how dog friendly it is. A lot of the best walks, and parks in the city dogs are allowed at as long as they are on leash. I have found with other New Zealand cities, the more beautiful spots are not dog friendly, however New Plymouth bucks that trend. The places that we went to were spectacular, and absolutely beautiful to explore. It is a city that I think other cities should thrive towards, which balances the beauty of their city, with the lifestyle of the inhabitants and their pets in the city. If you want to see the photos, there are far too many at the end of this post!

Pukekura Park is 128 acres of gardens, sports fields and beautiful flowers just outside of the city in New Plymouth. This park is home to Womad, as well as TSB's Festival of Lights every year. Year round there is also a tonne of things within this space to keep everyone in the family entertained from sports events, specialty flower gardens, a fernery and a zoo. This area offers hours of entertainment for everyone, including your dog!

Dogs are allowed pretty much throughout the park apart from three key areas; the fernery, the zoo and the sports grounds which makes sense that you wouldn't want dogs in these areas. This doesn't mean there isn't many places to walk, there is hours worth of areas to explore. Which include all the different gardens, the lakes and a few different lookout areas.

It was hard to refrain from taking too many photos, and that's why this post is photo heavy, because every where you look it is beautiful! There are lots of different flowers, shrubs, trees and areas which are visually appealing and been set up in a perfect way for viewing. Everywhere is connected by amazing, well-maintained paths that are generally flat, and if they do go up hill, have useful stairs. It wasn't muddy at all, and we went at the start of Spring so could have been either super muddy or dry.

We went on an overcast day and it wasn't overly busy, there were many groups of people, but it wasn't too busy. You could easily walk around and see the plants without people being in the way. There were multiple dogs around the park, but all were on leash like required which I love to see. I think a lot of the children were located in the zoo, because when we walked past there was a lot of noise in that area. Oh, I mean visiting the zoo, not in an enclosure!

The cafe at the park was a let down. The menu was very limited, with only a few breakfast options and nothing relating to lunch. The cabinet inside contained no vegetarian options, and what was in there seemed rather over-priced for what you were getting. In the end, we decided to skip this cafe and went elsewhere in New Plymouth for lunch since it didn't meet our expectations. I think it would be an okay place to visit if you were only wanting a coffee and cake, but for us hungry walkers, it didn't look like it would satisfy our hunger.

Overall I rate this walk very highly. It was one of the most engaging, beautiful areas I have got to explore with Diego that wasn't a super hard hike. I think in total we spent about 3 to 4 hours looking at the plants and walking around. If you are not super interested in taking photos, or assessing every single flower you walk past, it will be a quicker trip around the grounds. Due to the well maintained paths, this is perfect for people of any fitness level as well as children, prams and younger pups. I would definitely come back when I am next in New Plymouth, and would recommend anyone in the area to check it out. 

If you didn't want to read through all my rambles, or skim read it, here are the important quick facts: 

  • Dog friendly but all dogs must be on leash.
  • No dog poo bags available, bins are by parking lot so you will have to carry your bags around. 
  • Range in time from ten minutes to multiple hours.
  • May be busy in Summer months, or when other events are on.
  • Perfect for photoshoots.
  • Great for all fitness levels, and for families and young dogs.

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