Paritutu Rock

Climb up the short, steep path to this vantage point for stunning views of the rugged Taranaki coastline, Sugar Loaf Islands and Tasman Sea.

Guarding the eastern end of New Plymouth’s harbor, Paritutu Rock is a tall and resolute monolith on the Taranaki coast. Marvel at astonishing views of the surrounding environment and stand atop the remnants of a volcano that was active nearly 2 million years ago.

Make your way up the track that begins on the northern side of the rock. Watch out for uneven rocks in some places and remember that it is a steep climb. You will ascend 320 feet (100 meters) in about 15 minutes. Scramble to the top, where a chain is available to help you climb the last few feet. The views provide ample reward. Gaze out on spectacular 360-degree vistas of the New Plymouth coastline, the city and port, the Sugar Loaf Islands and the Tasman Sea stretching to the horizon. Take advantage of the wonderful photo opportunities available, which are best around sunset.

Once at the summit, give some thought to the ground beneath your feet. At the time of its 1770 discovery by Pakeha, those of European descent, Paritutu Rock was a significant site for local Maori people. The summit had been painstakingly flattened to make a level site for shelters and kumara storage pits. A village called Mahoe was once sprawled at the base of the rock, which was famed for its Tohunga school of learning.

Over the years, various groups have called for the demolition of the rock to make way for a harbor. Notice the rock’s shape, which is missing its southern shoulder. Failed or partial demolitions in 1879, 1921 and 1923 caused this appearance. In the 1940s, the monolith was handed over to the New Plymouth City Council and preserved for its historic, aesthetic and sentimental value.

Paritutu Rock is about a 10-minute drive west from New Plymouth’s city center. Make sure you’re comfortable with heights and bring a warm jacket if the Taranaki wind is blowing.