Mount Taranaki, also known as Mount Egmont, once lived in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island, as believed in Maori Legend. After being defeated in a mighty battle with Tongariro over the beautiful little Pihanga, Mt Taranaki retreated to the west coast with anger. Today, Taranaki is still wild with ever-changing weather, beautifully covered in snow in the middle of October, dormant, but deadly.
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Hamilton to Mt Taranaki
Continuing on from our road trip through Hamilton, we drove through Otorohanga Kiwiana Town, stopped at Mokau for their famous whitebait fritter, and followed the scenic highway route 3 all the way to Stradford – the nearest town to Mt Taranaki. If you plan to have picnics or self-catering while in the National Park, pack your bags at Stradford. 25 minutes drive from Stradford, we finally arrived at our destination – Mount Taranaki.
How To Prepare
Be prepared, going to the mountains is not like a typical road trip. Always follow these 5 safety code:
- Plan your trip.
- Tell someone.
- Stay updated with weather forecast.
- Know your limits.
- Bring sufficient supplies.
We arrived Thursday afternoon, and were told by the staff at the Visitor Centre that ‘heavy rain is coming, whatever you came here to do, do it now!’ We couldn’t be more thankful for that piece of information, because the rest of our trip in the mountain, was spent cuddling by the fireplace in our lodge, listening to the wind whistling, and watching the rain bucketing down.
Point is, even though we’ve checked the weather forecast only a couple of days ago before booking, the weather can change rapidly here. It’s always a good idea to book a few extra nights if time allows. Some of the other guests in the lodge ended up reading magazines by the fire their entire stay. When it’s raining like this, even Mt Taranaki disappears from view.
But don’t let the weather hold you back, on a clear day, this National Park has tracks that lead to amazing places. And being this close to the mountain, it’s breathtaking and soul replenishing even without the hikes!
Wilkies Pools Loop Track (Easy)
This is the only track in this National Park that’s accessible by a stroller. Although it’s a loop track, only the first 900m is stroller-friendly, so if you’re planning to bring a buggy, return the same way.
Hike through the Goblin forest, Wilkies pools are right under the suspension bridge. They are a series of small lava-formed pools that leads to Kapuni stream. Looking over the suspension bridge, Mt Taranaki peaks above the clouds. You can get around the bridge on a clear day and go for a dip in the crystal clear water.
Although it’s stroller-friendly, the track is still a long and bumpy journey for someone who’s used to walk around the malls. Kyra absolutely loved it, she hasn’t been this happy since the last hike in Yosemite National Park! Getting there is an uphill workout, but the views are amazing. Once we get to the bridge, we took Kyra out of the stroller and carried her to the pools. Be very careful of those slippery rocks if you plan to do this! The return trip seemed a lot easier and quicker on the same track. We spent about 1.5hrs to complete this track.
Lesson learned: Ain’t no mountain high enough, anything is possible!
Dawson Falls Track
Every hiker that comes to this place must know about Dawson Falls. There’s more than one track that gets you there. Enter via Manaia Road, and follow the signs. Direct View Point track is about a 20 minutes hike. It’s wet and muddy, but the steps are easy for a healthy person. Wear proper footwear.
Still suffering from baby brain syndrome, I left the baby carrier at home. So as a desperate attempt, we tried doing this track carrying baby Kyra in our arms. If you’re reading this, don’t do it! We didn’t get very far, but far enough to hear the waterfall. I think we gave up right before the fall actually.
Lesson learned: Gold might just be one more step away! Keep digging! ?
We stayed at Dawson Falls Mountain Lodge, situated in the National Park itself, very close to many hiking tracks. Dawson Falls visitor centre is only 100m away, which makes it really convenient to get information.
Breakfast is included during our stay, it’s a luxury and generous continental buffet, with options to order hot food at an additional charge.
Apart from their unique Historic Swiss decor, the best part about this lodge is you’ll feel the warmth from the fireplace as soon as you walk into the lounge. Especially on a freezing cold rainy day, coming back to a heated room and run a hot bath, really is the best thing you could ask for! There’s even a dryer room if you get caught in the rain!
They offered to bring a cot to our room as soon as they saw Kyra, which we didn’t take as Kyra still wouldn’t stay away from me. Our mountain view room, as the name suggests, has the view of the mountain right from our enclosed balcony. There’s an outdoor deck where you can hang out on a good day.
We were deeply impressed by the level of service our 7 months old baby has received. At the restaurant, their friendly staff placed the high chair in her very own space, with toys on the table, right beside her fine dining baby-style cutlery set. Food was deeelicious, and Kyra received her own complimentary baby dessert, half a pear, mud cake slice, and ice-cream! Of course, I had to finish the ice-cream and mud cake, for her sake, really! ? She received the highest attention from all staff, we all had a very happy and memorable (well, to us) stay.
Last but not least, you have to sign the guest book! They keep guest books that date as far as a few decades ago! So if you ever come back here again in the future, you might be able to read your comments to your grandkids!!
We met a lovely elderly couple at the lodge, who have been married for 49 years and 1 month at the time. I can’t help but ask them to reveal the secret to a long and happy marriage, their answer is simple.
Give in. ❤️
Effortless Planning Starts Here
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What are your hiking tips with a baby?