Saint Mary's Church

Admire a building steeped in reverence and tradition as you visit New Zealand’s oldest standing stone church and walk through its surrounding grounds.

Explore Saint Mary’s Church to discover a place of enormous religious and commemorative importance to the Taranaki community. The foundations of the church were laid in 1842 to establish an Anglican presence in the tiny settlement of New Plymouth. Initially a simple stone structure, the church has had additions over the years. It now features an impressive stone façade and a soaring timber ceiling. The church was consecrated as a cathedral in 2010.

Appreciate the church’s stone exterior, which has been added to and altered many times in the last 160 years. The consistent use of gray stone results in a harmonious and unified whole. As you face the imposing walls, reflect on the strength, security and solemnity that exude from the church and admire the evocative contrast of gray stone with green surroundings.

Enter the church and appreciate the beautiful stone and carved wooden interior, with serene stained-glass windows and a magnificent organ. Walk slowly through the church to find historical artifacts. Brass tablets with engravings in English and Maori recognize the faithful service of past parish members. Take a seat on one of the pews and spend a few moments meditating or praying.

Enjoy a stroll through the church’s tranquil gardens, which have an illustrious history in their own right. Taken over by British armed forces and used as a bullock yard during the Land Wars of the 1860s, the gardens contain a graveyard with tombstones that date back to the 1840s. Find the remains of early settlers and Maori and British soldiers. Come face-to-face with the solemn parts of the country’s history. The Garden of Remembrance was built in 2013 and incorporates stone carvings, attractive vegetation and places for quiet contemplation.

Visit Saint Mary’s Church any day. It has no admission fee. Three prayer services are held each day and the building is often used for concerts and ceremonies. The church has been closed for earthquake strengthening, so check the current schedule to verify open times.