Generic filters
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in excerpt

Kiwi towns

Eltham attractions, things to do

  • 3 minutes

Taranaki, North Island

Eltham is one of those small towns where the very visible closure of main street shops could put you off stopping. Behind the loss of retail business is a fascinating community with a number of firsts in New Zealand industrial history. Together with a heritage portfolio of buildings and places Eltham offers visitors a chance to slow down, linger in glorious retro stores, fossick in second hand shops and explore a flourishing local community gallery.

Best time to visit Eltham

Year round there are plenty of indoor activities to keep visitors entertained.

Weather in Eltham

Eltham, NZ – Fourteen Day Weather

Eltham is a detour from the Surf Highway making it a town where visitors just might skip by. Eltam and its attractions are worth a detour.

Eltham, Bridge St, main street of small town in Taranaki, New Zealand
Eltham, Bridge St, main street of small town in Taranaki

Day trip inspiration –  Eltham

  • Browse the Friday market collecting nibbles and snacks
  • The cheese shop to pick cheesy bites
  • Remember to take a selfie of your newly acquired Friday market goodies
  • Picnic at Lake Rotokare and take a leisurely stroll around the dam perimeter
  • Return to Eltham for serious retro shopping and museum
  • Rainy day activities could include scones in the local cafe, extending time in local museums and shops
  • The afternoon at the Village community art gallery


  • Visit Kaponga Horse Museum, it’s definitely worth 10 minutes down the road
  • Check out the Arty Loos (everyone needs to visit a toilet sometime)
  • Visit the Eltham toy wall and think about what a good idea it is to visualise childhood toys
  • Indulge in a world winning cheese scone at the local cafe or Four Square
  • Visit one of the retro shops for a new ensemble, it definitely will not break the bank
  • Browse the exhibition space of the community art gallery. Grassroots art doesn’t come any better than thisю
Old buildings and cart wheel in street in vintage effect Eltham, Taranaki, North Island, New Zealand
Old buildings in Eltham, Taranaki

United States born George Washington Tayler, first mayor of Eltham among his first decisions was to ban driving stock through the main street.



Check the detailed heritage inventory for Eltham in the travel pack section. The heritage walk is a walk through the industrial history of the town and Taranaki region in general. Eleven of the buildings are registered as significant buildings with the NZ Historic Places Trust.

Highlights on the heritage trail include:

Lake Rotokare @Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust
Lake Rotokare @Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust


  • Arty Loos (toilets), tiles used as a decorative feature have become a visitor highlight with a compulsory toilet stop to check out school children’s tile art among other artists.
  • Eltham Toy Wall: Bridger Park has the Eltham Toy Wall. Originally the toys were placed in hopes the toys would be returned to the original owner who had left the toys in Bridger Park. More toys joined the collection and then became a feature fixed to the toy wall set in concrete.
  • Lake Rotokare: Become a kiwi guardian for the day at Lake Rotokare. Become a kiwi guardian for the day at Lake. Kiwi Guardians at Rotokare Scenic Reserve. Are you ready for an adventure? Rotokare is a Taranaki treasure just waiting to be discovered. Find a weta, spot the native fish and discover the secrets of this special place.
  • Find the weta motel – anyone home?
  • How many different noises can you hear here?
  • Where are the tuna/eels lurking?


Eltham is a great shopping destination with a compact shopping area. An eclectic mix of shops making for not one size fits everyone answered.



Risky, and not recommended unless with companions. The activity is sledging over a river dam, the closed 5 ½ metre dam on the Waingongoro River near Normanby. Check with the local visitor centre for up to date information before departing.

Getting around Eltham

Eltham to New Plymouth fastest route

Eltham is 50 km from New Plymouth on state highway 3.


You will be driving through Inglewood and Stratford. Stratford bookends the FORGOTTEN HIGHWAY.

A vehicle is needed in Eltham as there is no public transport.


For more information about what to do and see in Taranaki check out New Plymouth travel guide as well as regional guide Taranaki attractions, things to do.


Our editors independently visit tour operators, purchase tickets, pay for accommodation, and rate products and places. We are not paid to go on a tour or visit a place. We only make money if you decide to purchase a product through our website links. You will not pay any extra, that is guaranteed.

We promise to never accept free products from manufacturers in return for boosting their products. Our independence and reviews is funded by your purchases and affiliate commissions, at no additional cost to yourself… read more about our affiliate programme in the terms and conditions HERE.




  • Eltham is a small town and a poster village for the loss of services and shops to the nearby larger town (New Plymouth). Main Street is the haunt of a number of closed and abandoned shops. The retro and second hand shops are popular however it is very apparent that the small town retail vibe is struggling. New Plymouth is approximately 30 minutes drive.


Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.

Related articles


If you have a query about content, travel deals or anything else, our team is happy to answer all your questions 🙂

    Your information is secure, no third party involved.
    100% Safe, secure, privacy guaranteed. Privacy Policy.