You get the impression that a city forward-thinking enough to open an art-space as epic as the Len Lye Centre would have other smart sites for its residents and visitors, and you’d be right.
The council chambers in New Plymouth proper must be fair groaning with awards and trophies, because another of their smart schemes has collected gongs galore.
The Coastal Walkway is a 12km journey to add into your own journey, a promenade par excellence that hugs the sea and grabs your senses all the way from Bell Block to the Te Rewa Rewa Reserve and beyond. The beginning alone is a gentle but rewarding stroll or ride through classic Kiwi farmland, before you hit that rugged coastline and make your way south. Stroll the stunning structure that is Te Rewa Rewa Bridge, and look up to see Mt Taranaki framed as you could never quite imagine.
Down to the city proper, you get up close and personal with Len Lye’s Wind Wand, which might be a curious phrase to the uninitiated, but is actually an example of kinetic sculpture in its in situ glory, how the great and celebrated man imagined his work to be. The whole walkway is a celebration of the outdoors, with man-made highlights dotted along it to augment the amazing natural landscape.
It really lives up to its name, too: most of the way you’re so close to the water as to just about be in it.
This gives you a real taste of the surf as you make your way around to its conclusion at Ngamotu Beach near Port Taranaki, a safe spot for a swim in the summertime.
There are heaps of great resting places along the way, some perfect places for a picnic, and a chance to watch skaters, cyclists and dogs taking their owners for a walk all the while. The views are epic – Mount Taranakai one way, the open sea the other, and there are plenty of good side tracks for those who like to be sidetracked. And it’s designed in a way that you can do as little or as much as you like. Every city should have one.