One thing that our Dollar Diet has taught D and I is the importance of taking breaks. As much as I’d like a 3-week break in Fiji, that’s unrealistic for our one-income family. And – as any parent of small children will tell you – a holiday with small children isn’t much of a holiday at all, so mini-breaks are the way to go.
We recently spent a few days in New Plymouth, which I highly recommend for any family looking for a fun holiday destination on a budget. We hardly spent a thing during our time there, due to all the free things on offer, making it one of the cheapest mini-breaks we’ve ever had.
New Plymouth is one of New Zealand’s top tourist destinations thanks to it’s proximity to Mount Taranaki and the large number of attractions in and around the city. You can find out more about what to see and do here, but here’s what we got up to during our time in New Plymouth:
Technically the Tarankai Aviation Transport and Technology Museum (TATATM) is just out of Inglewood, but it’s a short drive from New Plymouth. TATATM is the sort of museum I just adore. Run by volunteers on the smell of an oily rag, it doesn’t look exciting on the outside, but inside is a well curated treasure trove of New Zealand’s past.
There is plenty for kids to climb on and play with, including a working telephone exchange which kept my kids happy calling from building to building.
We spent two hours at TATATM and the entrance fee of $16 a family is great value.
We also spent several hours hanging out at the cool Puke Ariki, New Plymouth’s museum, library and information centre all rolled into one. It’s all FREE.
My tots were particularly taken with the library, which utilised technology well and provided plenty of games to play.
D and I were super-impressed by the relaxed librarians who told us ‘of course it’s okay to eat your lunch here! You have kids, they need to eat.’ So, so chilled.
We loved the Taranki Cycle Park at Bell Block, which has junior road circuit, complete with traffic lights, roundabouts and pedestrian crossings, along with a BMX track and learners soft-surface pad. Oh, and it’s FREE.
We had a ball at the FREE Brooklands Zoo, which can be found within the grounds of Pukekura Park, one of New Plymouth’s main attractions. It’s not a traditional zoo as there’s no lions or elephants etc, but it’s still worth a visit nonetheless. Brooklands is home to monkeys, meerkats, a large aviary, and a farm animal area. It’s perfect for toddlers as it is ENCLOSED, so if you have a kid who likes to do a runner this is the place for you. There are loads of picnic tables and a great playground.
I’d like to have explored more of Pukekura Park on this visit, but my two kiddos were getting tired, so it will have to keep.
There are LOADS more free or frugal things you can do in or around New Plymouth, so if you are on a tight budget you can’t go wrong by spending your holidays here.