Te Henui Walkway, New Plymouth
This is an incredibly beautiful walk and fortuitously cycling is permitted, so it makes for a really nice extension to riding the Coastal Pathway. It is listed as a "national walkway" and it's easy to see why it is so highly rated.
The mostly flat, gentle path, is set in a greenbelt oasis, winding its way alongside the Te Henui stream from the coast up the valley, through dense groves of native and exotic plants; Rewa Rewa, Pohutakawa, Puriri, Puketea, Oaks, Magnolia's, Camellia's and many other species. While it's origins may have been a sewage pipe route, it is now a place of natural beauty with picnic areas, swimming holes and prolific birdlife; expect to see tui's, fantails and Kereru (our native wood pigeon).
You can access the walkway from a number of points, but it is probably easiest to start from the 'lightning bolt' bridge on the Coastal Walkway at the East End Reserve. From here to Cumberland Street is 7km return. A concrete path takes you under the railway bridge on the eastern side of the Te Henui River, skirt around the bowling club, cross the river and turn left following the river past the croquet greens.
Compared to the bustling Coastal Pathway, this is a peaceful trail. While never far from civilisation, it's like being in a private woodland as you pass historic sites, bush, forest reserves and grassy pastures, passing under a few road bridges, and over foot bridges as you criss-cross the stream.
On reaching Cumberland Street you can continue to the end of the walkway, another 1.5km. It is supposedly very scenic, however having discovered this gem after riding the Coastal Pathway, I was running out of time, so turned back returning via the same route.
New Plymouth boasts a huge range of attractions, so I didn't discover this delightful valley until my fourth visit to the region, however it is so picturesque and peaceful this short walk or cycle should feature on everyone's "must do" list.