The area where New Plymouth was founded had been the historic home for several Maori iwi (tribes) for centuries. Early European whalers operated in the area for some time before the ship William Briant arrived in 1840 to disembark the first of the European settlers.
Today, the city is a service centre for the region's principle economic activities including intensive pastoral activities (mainly dairy farming) as well as oil, gas and petrochemical exploration and production. The population is about 47,000. Notable features are the excellent botanic gardens, the 45m high artwork called the wind wand crafted by noted New Zealand artist Len Lye, and the picturesque views of Mount Taranaki, (previously referred to as Mount Egmont).
Being a coastal city with a mountain within one hour's drive away, the more adventurous residents of New Plymouth can snowboard, ski, water ski and surf all in the same day.