The Egmont National Park

Just south of New Plymouth on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island is the majestic, and quite frankly intimidating, Taranaki Volcano. Also known as Mt Egmont, the volcano is now dormant, and the surrounding land which encircles it has become the Egmont National Park. The park is popular all year round with those looking to conquer the mountain, whilst there is also an extensive network of walking tracks, offering a variety of hikes catering to all abilities and levels of experience.     

There are few places in the world where you can spend the morning skiing on a snowy mountainside, before hitting the beach in the afternoon to catch the surf. Incredibly, Taranaki is a region where the snow-topped peak of Mt Egmont and a fantastic surf coastline are just a short drive apart. Here are a few things to add to your itinerary for your visit...

Short and Long Walks

The Egmont National Park

With its stunning mountainous backdrop, as well as the kind of natural diversity that flourishes on volcanic land, it is no surprise that the Egmont National Park is hugely popular among walkers and hikers. There are a variety of tracks, ranging from 15 minute strolls to full on five day excursions.

Some of the shorter walks include the Kamahi Loop track, which takes you through the ‘Goblin Forest’, whilst several take you to the famous Dawson Falls, where you can see the most popular waterfall in the Egmont National Park from a variety of perspectives.  

A couple of notable trails which take considerably longer are the 'Around the Mountain Circuit', which takes 3 to 5 days to complete, and traverses the fabulous alpine wilderness which circumnavigates Mt Egmont. As well as this there is the two-day Pouakai Circuit, which starts and finishes in North Egmont, crossing the remnants of the ancient Pouakai volcano.

The Summit Climb

The Egmont National Park

A look at New Zealand’s most perfectly formed volcano will help you understand why the lure of Mt Taranaki attracts visitors from all over the world. The volcano is about 120,000 years old, last erupting in 1775, and in its dormant state provides hiking enthusiasts with an achievable, albeit intimidating, summit challenge.

Let’s face it; it’s difficult to stand in awe, gazing up at Mt Taranaki without suddenly fancying yourself as a mountaineer and wanting to conquer the volcano. Don’t worry, this is natural. Luckily, surmounting New Zealand’s most climbed mountain is entirely possible, with between 6 and 8 hours needed for the complete return trip.

It must be said though, that in the winter summit climbs are only recommended for experienced snow and ice climbers. Between June and August, conditions tend to become a great deal more challenging as temperatures drop and ice begins to form. Also keep in mind that as much as Mt Taranaki is appreciated for its beauty, it has, in recent years, become notorious for its fast changing and fickle weather conditions. Blue skies or not, walkers are always advised to come prepared with warm and weather-proof clothing.

Ski

Keen skiers and snowboarders can take to the slopes on the Manganui Skifield, which is operated by the Stratford Mountain Club. Visitors are welcome all through the season, which runs from June to September depending on the snowfall.

Other Information

There are three main ways into the Mt Egmont National Park. Egmont Rd runs in from the north, as well as the Pembroke Rd from Stratford which winds into East Egmont. If you want to quickly get to Dawson Falls, then entry from the south side of the park via Manaia Rd is recommended.

As many of the walks inside the park last up to five days, there is plenty of accommodation on offer during your visit. Inside are eight Department of Conservation hikers' huts, joined together by the various tracks. As well as this you can find two lodges for hikers, one at Dawson Falls and the other in North Egmont. For something a little more luxurious, there are two privately run guesthouses inside the park, the Dawson Falls Mountain Lodge and Mountain House Motor Lodge.