New Plymouth serves one of New Zealand's most productive dairy regions as well as the gas and oil industries. This natural wealth translates into an optimistic outlook that is reflected in New Plymouth's healthy arts scene, the abundance of cafés and restaurants, and a lifestyle that maximizes the great outdoors—from Egmont National Park, with Mt. Taranaki at its heart, to the extensive gardens and parklands and the first-class surf beaches.
Taranaki has a strong Māori history and a strong history of Māori–European interaction, not all of it friendly. Before the arrival of Europeans in 1841, kainga (villages) and pā (fortified villages) spread along the coast. In the mid-1800s, European land disputes racked Taranaki. An uneasy formal peace was made between the government and local Māori tribes in 1881, and New Plymouth began to play its current role as a trading port. On the edge of the Tasman Sea, today's city is second to its surroundings, but its few surviving colonial buildings, cafés, stores, galleries, museums in the city center, and extensive parklands, merit a half-day's exploration.