One of the most iconic spots in New Plymouth – especially for sunset – is the Paritutu Rock right on the coast overlooking Sugar Loaf rocks and the west coast. 

The craziest bit is that on a clear day, you can catch a beautiful sunset to the west and a gorgeous view of Mount Taranaki to the east.

The view from Paritutu Rock is pretty unique and definitely one of the coolest things you can do while exploring New Plymouth!

The hike itself is quite easy to find and you’ll definitely run into some locals and other travellers – but in a way, it still feels like a hidden gem.

Maybe because we had such a good experience or because the views are just that good. But it’s a super short, steep, and awesome hike!

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Everything you need to know about the Paritutu Rock hike

Watching the sunset from Paritutu Rock was amazing

There isn’t a whole lot you need to know about this short but sweet hike!

When we say short we mean short in distance but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. There is quite a bit of elevation and it is a little bit technical so it’s just something to keep in mind. 

Make sure you wear some proper footwear because, as we said, it is a bit technical. The rock is basically vertical and you will take some big steps on the rocks while holding onto a steel chain.

It might sound a little scary but it wasn’t that bad! Jo’s scared of heights and she still managed to get up to the top!

As for footwear, we wore running & hiking shoes but there were other people up there in some questionable footwear (we saw someone in jandals and sandals – definitely do NOT recommend).

Wear proper shoes and don’t bring too many loose items so you can use the chain for support and you should be good to go!

It’s just a quick hike overlooking New Plymouth and the West Coast and it’s absolutely beautiful! To have an extra cool experience we’d recommend going for either sunrise or sunset at the top of Paritutu Rock! 

You can see New Plymouth from the top!

Practical information about Paritutu Rock

Distance: 0.6 km return / 0.37 miles return
Elevation: ~100 m / ~328 ft. elevation gain
Type: In-and-out trail 
Length: 25-35 minutes return (plus extra time for photos) 
Difficulty: Hard (short but technical and steep)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Click here to see a trail map for the Paritutu Rock trek

Here’s a picture of the beginning of the Paritutu Rock trek

The Paritutu Summit Track trailhead

Starting from the Paritutu Rock parking lot

The parking lot at the Paritutu Rock trailhead

Paritutu Rock is located between Back Beach and Ngamotu Beach right outside the center of New Plymouth. It’s on the south side close to the harbour and an industrial area.

You’ll find a fairly big car park just below the rock where you can park your car and start the trek.

It will be quite obvious where to go as well as there’s only one massive rock sticking high into the sky. Yes, you’re going to summit that!

If you look at it from the bottom, you can see that it has some height to it. It’s 156 meters tall so there is a bit of elevation to get to the top of Paritutu!

The best part is that the hike really warms you up to the steep incline. At the beginning (first few minutes) it’s a simple staircase and then it just steady steps up and up.

Technical stretch to the top of Paritutu Rock

It’s just a little steep but there are chains!
It’s a good workout going up the rock!

Then the fun bit starts! (I guess it depends on what you consider fun but there’s a bit of technical stretch after the staircase and we enjoyed it!)

We would say it’s still relatively safe as long as you’re careful and take your time. There are chains to hold on to and a few spots to wait at if you’re trying to pass over people or vice versa.

Paritutu Rock has probably been climbed a million times so there are tons of obvious spots where to put your feet and hands. 

In all honesty, it looks a lot more intimidating than it is and we even saw people hike it in jandals (flip flops) before. Obviously, we do not recommend doing that.

The hike/climb is really short too. Even after stopping every few minutes to take in the view of New Plymouth, Mount Taranaki, and the landfill right below (😅) you’ll soon be up at the top. 

The top bit isn’t just a little summit platform you hike up to, take in the view, and go right back down! It’s pretty big and there’s plenty of room to walk around and take in the views! 

Take in the view from the top of Paritutu Rock

Jo’s enjoying the beautiful sunset
Back Beach below is stunning

The top of Paritutu Rock is pretty big and there are a bunch of good spots to take in the view – even if it’s busy.

If you’re lucky, right at the top, you can look back and see Mount Taranaki if it’s popping out!

We unfortunately didn’t get lucky on the day (he only popped out for a few minutes) but luckily we saw him in all his glory when we did the Pouakai Tarns hike. Also, the sunset out west was stunning so it was still worth the climb up.

Mt Taranaki showed its peak briefly

There’s a little viewing platform right at the end of Paritutu Rock where you can go stand and take in the view of the coast! This is probably the best spot to watch the sunset from.

Maybe it’s because we didn’t know what to expect and because it was a rather spontaneous decision to go up here but we had the most incredible experience at the top of Paritutu Rock.

The views were just breathtaking and the sunset was gorgeous. Definitely one of the coolest things to do in New Plymouth if you’re up for a bit of an adventure!

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Back down from Paritutu Rock

Going down looks a little intimidating at first!

One thing we haven’t mentioned yet is if you stay for sunset there’s a good chance a lot of other people will be doing the same thing.

So if you’re trying to be fast it’s best to be one of the first ones going down as soon as the sun has set.

Alternatively, you can wait a little bit until you get your turn. Just keep in mind that it’s a bit more tricky (and potentially less safe depending on your skill level) to go down once it’s dark.

It took us roughly 15 minutes to get back down to the car park. We left maybe 5-10 minutes after sunset but it was almost dark once we got down!

The best piece of advice we can give you is to go at your own pace and keep some distance between the other people going down. Then you should be sweet.

What to bring on the Paritutu Rock Hike

Enjoying the view from the top Paritutu Rock

Since this is a short, quick, and steep hike you really don’t need to bring too much for this. We brought a water bottle and our phones + camera and that was it!

Wear proper shoes + maybe put on some sunscreen before you go depending on the time of day and you’ll be sweet.

Before you make your way up to Paritutu Rock

Check the weather

This hike is definitely one to do on a nice clear, sunny day. It’s also fun to hike to the top when Mount Taranaki is in sight so you get a cool view.

Especially if you have a few days in New Plymouth you can try and go on a nice clear day! 

If the weather forecast predicts rain, do not go. It will be too slippery and not safe.

You can see the weather for New Plymouth here.

Wear proper shoes

We always recommend wearing hiking shoes or trail shoes when hiking. Since this is a shorter hike, you might be fine with your runners.

Dom wore a pair of Adidas and Jo wore her hiking boots – just because we weren’t sure what to expect.

If you don’t have any hiking shoes, we highly recommend the Newton Ridge hiking shoes from Columbia. Jo just got these recently and she loves them!

Leave no trace

When you go hiking (and do other outdoor adventure activities), always remember to follow the 7 principles of leaving no trace.

This means:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare.
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  3. Dispose of waste properly.
  4. Leave what you find.
  5. Minimize campfire impacts.
  6. Respect wildlife.
  7. Be considerate of others.

Rent a car in New Zealand 

Car rental from Auckland Airport.
Our little Prius hybrid that we used for 2 weeks on the North Island.

For this specific hike, you might not need a car depending on where you’re staying and how much time you’ve got. If you’re staying somewhere central, you can walk to the trailhead if you want.

As we stayed a few kilometres from the city, we decided to take our car to the trailhead and park below the Paritutu Rock.

The car we booked was through DiscoverCars and we picked it up at Auckland Airport. DiscoverCars works like a search engine that compares all the different cars from different rental companies and shows you the best price.

It’s so convenient and we managed to snag a really good deal for ours ($50 NZD per day including insurance during peak season).

The longer ahead you book your car, the more likely you are to find a good deal. You can find and hire your rental car for New Zealand here.

Auckland airport car hire in New Zealand photo.

When is the best time to hike Paritutu Rock?

Dom’s looking for whales and orcas. Sadly without luck!

If you’re up for it, we would recommend either hiking up for sunrise or sunset. The view from the top is spectacular.

But it’s one of those hikes where the views are going to be great regardless. You have the coastline, the city, and (hopefully) Mt Taranaki as well).

Going for sunrise or sunset makes it a little extra special though…

If you go for sunrise, you’ll most likely have fewer people at the top – and the view of the sun waking up and Mount Taranaki showing itself would be pretty magical.

We would avoid the trail if it is raining or has rained recently!

Paritutu Rock, as we mentioned before, is a bit technical and will be super slippery and potentially dangerous if the trail and the chains are wet.

How to get to Paritutu Rock Trailhead

The drive from New Plymouth CBD to Paritutu Rock trailhead

If you’re in New Plymouth or planning to come to New Plymouth then it’s roughly a 10-minute drive from the center of New Plymouth to the trailhead.

You can find the directions to Paritutu Rock here.

You may also like…

Recap of hiking up to Paritutu Rock

A Lily of the Nile at the top of the Paritutu Rock in New Plymouth.
There was a Lily of the Nile at the top of the rock

Paritutu Rock is one of our favourite things to do in New Plymouth and it’s great on a clear day or evening if you’re looking to catch a banging sunset.

We’ve never hiked the Stairway to Heaven in Hawaii but seeing pictures of Paritutu gives us similar vibes on a much smaller scale!

If you have any questions about hiking the rock, how to get there, or what else to do in New Plymouth, feel free to DM us on Instagram or leave a comment below!

We hope you have an amazing time in New Zealand and enjoy this short and sweet hike!

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