If you’re looking for an epic adventure through one of New Zealand’s national parks, Egmont is the answer! This is one of the most dramatic volcanic landscapes in the country – and it’s also a personal favorite of mine.
Egmont National Park (also known as Taranaki National Park) has recently been renamed Te Papakura o Taranaki. This park is popular among adventure-seekers that love the great outdoors. And if you’re hoping to explore the beautiful scenery on foot, you’re in luck. There are many advanced hiking trails, including summiting Mount Taranaki, which is one of the world’s most symmetrical volcanos.
If you’re not super into hiking, there are plenty more ways to enjoy this national park. You can stay cozy in a cabin, go hunting, enjoy some of the amazing New Zealand wildlife, or ski. But before you head out, there are certain things you should know.
Having lived in New Zealand for several years, I’m well-acquainted with the Taranaki area. As such, I’ve created this handy guide to help you plan your trip. So keep reading for everything you need to know about visiting Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki.
- 1. About Egmont National Park
- 2. Where is Egmont National Park?
- 3. When is the best time to visit Egmont National Park?
- 4. Is it safe to visit Egmont National Park?
- 5. Is it free to visit Egmont National Park?
- 6. Where is the best place to stay to explore Egmont National Park?
- 7. What are the best things to do in Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki?
- 8. Can you visit Egmont National Park in winter?
- 9. How long do you need to visit Egmont National Park?
- 10. Is visiting Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki worth it?
- Thanks for reading!
- Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand
- Travel Insurance Has Your Back!
1. About Egmont National Park
Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki is a whopping area of 341.7 km² (132 miles²) containing three volcanic cones.
The area became a national park in 1900. Today, it has over 300 km (186 mi) of fantastic and easily accessible walking trails. The network of tracks provides everything from 15-minute walks to 3-day hikes. So no matter your age or fitness level, there is something for you to enjoy.
Of its three volcanic cones, Taranaki Maunga is the most well-known and also one of New Zealand’s most climbed mountains. This dormant volcano was previously (and still commonly) called Mount Egmont/Taranaki.
Measuring 2,518 meters (8,261 feet) high, it’s the second-highest peak on the North Island. The panoramic view at the summit of Taranaki Maunga draws many adventurous hikers and mountaineers to the park. However, the views from the base are also amazing. So if you’re in the mood for a shorter walk, you can just visit the viewing platforms.
One thing I love about Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki is the diversity of the landscape, flora, and fauna. Whenever I come here, I’m in awe of the Kamahi and Rimu trees, herb fields, shrubs, and lush native rainforests. There are also plenty of mossy swamps and tranquil waterfalls.
Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki is home to many native birds and fish species. Some of the threatened species you might see include the fernbird, North Island brown kiwi, koaro, and giant kokopu. Make sure to keep your eyes out!
To the Maori people, Taranaki Maunga is an ancient ancestor and a sacred place. As such, be sure to treat it with respect when you visit (which I’m sure you will anyways!).
Also, to really immerse yourself in the gorgeous environment, take your time exploring. This isn’t the type of place to power through. Instead, I recommend going slowly to soak it all in!
2. Where is Egmont National Park?
Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki is located in the Taranaki Region. It’s on the west coast of the North Island.
There are three entry points into Te Papakura o Taranaki. The one you should choose depends on where you want to explore.
- Enter via Egmont Road to get to North Egmont.
- Take Manaia Road to head to Dawson Falls.
- Go in through Pembroke Road if heading to the Stratford Plateau.
3. When is the best time to visit Egmont National Park?
Choosing the best time of year to visit New Zealand is tricky and depends on what you plan to do. From personal experience, I recommend visiting Egmont/Te Papakura o Taranaki during the summer. These sunnier months offer a clear view of the landscape and dry land to walk upon. This provides the safest conditions to navigate.
If you’re visiting New Zealand during winter, you can still come! The volcano is covered in snow (so pretty!) and it’s not every day you get to ski on a volcano! You’ll want to check the Stratford Mountain Club website before you go to make sure the road is open and conditions are right. It’s not advised to climb the summit in winter unless you’re an experienced alpine mountaineer with the appropriate gear as its dangerous and difficult with all the snow and ice.
If you want to do the Mount Taranaki Summit Track, I highly recommend coming here in the summertime! Head to Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki early in the morning to avoid the scorching heat that begins later in the day.
Going early is also a great way to avoid crowds, as it gets busier around midday. Plus, visiting Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki in the morning gives you plenty of time to explore – especially if you are only there for a day trip!
Related Read: If you want to explore more of this stunning country, I highly recommend a longer, guided tour. You can read about my top multi-day tours of New Zealand here.
4. Is it safe to visit Egmont National Park?
It is reasonably safe to visit Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki. Taranaki Maunga is a dormant volcano, which is around 130,000 years old and last erupted in 1854. However, you should still visit at your own risk.
Although it’s considered dormant, it’s not an extinct volcano. This means it does have the possibility to erupt in the future. Volcanoes are unpredictable, but a dormant volcano is obviously less likely to erupt than an active one. Luckily, the other two volcanic cones at the park are extinct.
If you’re visiting, you can always check the alert level on GeoNet before heading there. Take the usual volcano safety precautions while you explore, such as wearing covered shoes and packing a first aid kit, mask, goggles, long-sleeved top and pants, and a bottle of water.
Having the opportunity to visit an area with a dormant volcano is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience and New Zealand’s volcanic landscape is like no other. So if all this excites you, I would recommend it. Honestly, I’d do it again in a heartbeat!
5. Is it free to visit Egmont National Park?
Yes, it’s free to visit Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki! The walks are free to do on your own, and it costs nothing to admire the stunning scenery.
Tours or guided activities will cost money. However, these are totally optional.
However, if you’re planning an overnight hike within the park, you’ll have to pay for accommodation. Some places need to be pre-booked in advance while others are on a first-come, first-served basis. Staying in a cabin or lodge is generally around $27 NZD per adult for a night. As a cheaper option, camping tends to be around $5-$15 NZD.
I will discuss overnight hikes and the best places to stay (with the cost of each) further down. So read on to learn more!
6. Where is the best place to stay to explore Egmont National Park?
If you want to explore Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki, I highly recommend staying in New Plymouth. It’s Taranaki’s only city and a great place to visit all year round! It’s super close to the park and a lovely place to relax after a long hike.
From New Plymouth, it’s just a 30-minute drive to the Egmont National Park Visitor Centre. Simply follow State Highway 3 for most of the way before driving along Egmont Road.
This city makes the ideal base to explore Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki. Location aside, there are so many things to do in New Plymouth. When you’re not hiking Taranaki Maunga, you can stroll along the coastal walkway, go for a surf, or relax at Tapuae Beach.
When I stayed here, I definitely indulged in donuts at Knead. This artisanal shop is a great place to fuel up with coffee and sweet treats before a day of hiking. Their flavors change frequently, but if the Jam & Cream is in stock, I’d recommend it. Knead is open Thursday to Saturday from 8 am – 2 pm.
And if you don’t want to venture into the national park, stay local for a day! I went berry picking at Paradise Valley Berry Farm. Obviously, you’ll have to visit during the strawberry-picking season, which can run from November to February.
Where to stay in New Plymouth
If you’re already sold on New Plymouth, I have some great recommendations for places to stay!
Millenium Hotel New Plymouth – $$$
After long hiking days, you might crave the ultimate comfort. If so, I suggest the Millennium Hotel New Plymouth. The hotel is just a short walk from town and on the waterfront, with rooms overlooking the Tasman Sea. If you’re hungry after all that exercise, the on-site Salt Restaurant is known for its seafood and sea views from every table, or you can order 24-hour room service.
Prices start at $161 NZD for a regular room or $250 NZD for suites and can be booked online now.
The Dawson Motel – $$
The Dawson Motel has a great central location and offers self-contained apartments. You’ll get a fridge, microwave, and free access to bikes. Some units even have a fully-equipped kitchen for those nights in. Prices start at $190 NZD, and if you book one early enough, make sure to request a mountain or sea view!
The Devon Hotel – $$
Location is a big plus at The Devon Hotel with easy access to beaches, restaurants, and the coast. There’s a great pool and outdoor area, and every stay comes with a free mountain bike rental so you can explore the city.
Rooms here can be booked starting around the $125 NZD mark. Check availability and book your stay online here.
Ducks and Drakes Boutique Motel and Backpackers – $
For a fantastic hostel experience, book the Ducks and Drakes Boutique Motel and Backpackers. This hostel offers a garden, a shared lounge and kitchen, a sun terrace, and a bike rental service. People are friendly, and it’s a great place to just chill after an active day.
Ari Backpackers – $
For a fun, laid-back hostel right in the center of New Plymouth, Ariki Backpackers is my choice. After a busy day, the guest lounge and large outdoor patio are perfect for relaxing and mingling.
Related Read: If you prefer staying elsewhere, Whanganui is just 1.5 hours from this national park. You can read about the best things to do in Whanganui here!
7. What are the best things to do in Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki?
Walk the Pouakai Circuit
The Pouakai Circuit is one of the bucket list things to do in New Zealand! This 2-3 day hike loops around Mount Taranaki/Taranaki Maunga and covers about 25 km (15.5 mi). It offers the very best views of the dormant volcano while exploring the diverse scenery.
This is an advanced track and is steep, with stairs and tree roots in places. Like me, you may need to stop for some breaks now and again. You can read more trail info and hiker reviews and recommendations for this track here.
Despite the challenge, this trail is well worth it. I loved passing through the flowery and grassy area at the Ahukawakawa Swamp. You’ll also walk under the tall Dieffenbach Cliffs, along Boomerang Slip, and see Kokowai Stream. This stream is pretty cool because it has red-tinged water from the manganese oxide in the ground.
It can be a rocky trail, so watch your footing. Be sure to wear or pack your usual trekking gear. This includes good hiking boots, warm clothes, a waterproof coat and pants, food, and drink.
When hiking this trail, people tend to stay overnight at the Pouakai Hut and Holly Hut. So make sure to bring your sleeping gear. Camping costs $5 NZD per adult and runs on a first-come, first-served basis. If you prefer a bunk in the hut, it’ll cost $25 NZD per night and you’ll need to book it ahead of time online.
Walking the Pouakai Circuit and staying at the Pouakai Tarn is my number one favorite thing to do at Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki. However, it does require gear and planning. I recommend locking it into your travel plans and making it a priority when visiting.
Visit the Pouakai Tarn and Hut
When visiting Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki, you MUST hike to Pouakai Tarn and Hut! It’s one of my absolute favorite hikes on the North Island. After you see the views, you’ll understand why. Pouakai Tarn is a small alpine lake with a stunning reflection of Mt Taranaki/Taranaki Maunga (check out my photos above!).
This view is even better in person. If you’re eager to see it yourself, you’re definitely not alone. The Pouakai Hut is only 10 minutes away from the lake, and a very popular spot to stay overnight. In fact, the hut moved to bookings only because of the high demand.
But how do you get here and book a spot? Well, you can read this complete guide to hike to Pouakai Hut and Tarn for detailed info. But basically, there are a few different trails that can take you to Pouakai Hut (depending on your starting point and how long you want to hike). You can do this as a day hike, but I really recommend staying a night in the hut if you can.
There are a couple of treks you can take to reach the tarn and hut. No matter what trail you take, make sure you wear warm, waterproof clothing and comfortable hiking boots.
Trust me, this is a great activity to explore the vastness and beauty of Egmont National Park (one of the best national parks in NZ)! My advice is to drop your overnight gear at Pouakai Hut to claim your bed. Then, take a sunset walk to the tarn. The winds are calmer and the golden light is stunning for photographs!
On my visit, I took the Mangorei Track to reach the hut. This hike starts from the parking lot on Mangorei Road. The entrance to the trail is about 100 meters (328 feet) up the road, just follow the signs through a private driveway and then into the wilderness.
It’s an uphill hike with lots of wooden steps, so you’ll need a decent level of fitness. The track can be muddy, and the boardwalk can be slippery. However, the walk is really beautiful and passes through forests with views of the Ahukawakawa Swamp. And towards the end, before you’ll reach the spectacular sight of Mount Taranaki.
This is an out-and-back trail that’s 12.2 km (7.6 mi) in total. Plan for about 2 hours to reach the Pouakai Hut. If you’re doing it as a day hike, make sure to leave enough time to enjoy the views and return.
If you are stopping off and staying at the Pouakai Hut, ensure you have booked it via the DOC website. It is $25 NZD per night. There are a total of 16 bunk beds in the hut, and the exact bed is chosen upon arrival.
If you prefer, there is a space for two small tents to be set up outside. Camping costs $5 NZD per person and is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Another trail leading to Pouakai Tarn is the Dover Route. This is an expert-level hike, and while the entire thing is about 10.5 hours, you can complete a portion to reach the tarn.
You’ll get to the Pouakai Tarn in around 3 hours and 30 minutes. This out-and-back hike begins on Carrington Road and leads you to the Pouakai Trig before reaching the Pouakai Hut.
Summit Mount Taranaki/Taranaki Maunga
When visiting this national park, you’ll notice just how beautiful Mount Taranaki is from afar. But if you’re really up for an adventure, climb it! From my experience, this is a VERY difficult vertical summit. I’d only recommend it if you’re confident in your climbing ability and have previous experience.
It’s best to climb Mount Taranaki between December and April. If you’re visiting New Zealand in winter, this trail will be snowy and slippery. For those who do wish to climb from May to November, you’ll need years of mountaineering experience and equipment to do it safely.
To begin the Mount Taranaki Summit Trail, you can park your car off North Egmont Road. It’s 6.3 km (4 miles) up to the summit, taking around 5-6 hours. But be warned – there’s a 1.6 km (1 mile) vertical climb to the summit, which makes the hike quite challenging!
Along the way, you’ll also be exposed to the elements. You may need to get over rocks and parts of the track can be quite slippery.
Despite the intense effort, reaching the top is completely worth it! You’ll be greeted with a stunning view of the land below, with the Tasman Sea on one side and mountains on the other.
Check out Dawson Falls
New Zealand is known for its amazing waterfalls. It’s no wonder one of my favorite things to do at Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki is heading to Dawson Falls. This is an 18-meter (59-foot) high waterfall surrounded by lush green forests.
There are a variety of trails in the Dawson Falls area that will take you there. When I went, I really enjoyed the Kapuni Loop Track. This loop is just shy of 1 mile (0.6 km), but I’d schedule about an hour so you can walk at your leisure and snap some photos. It’s an easy day hike, and there’s a parking lot right off Manaia Rd.
While the waterfall is gorgeous, I especially loved walking through the thriving rainforest. My personal highlight was passing through the “goblin forest,” which is filled with Kamahi trees and mossy rocks. It all feels pretty magical to me!
Just follow the Kapanui Stream to the base of the falls, where you’ll hike up a short steep trail. There is a lookout point to enjoy and admire the powerful waterfall hitting the rocks below. To finish the loop walk, simply follow the track and cross Manaia Road. You’ll head through the forest and back to the parking lot.
For those that love natural pools, I’ve got you covered! Wilkies Pools is located just north of Dawson Falls in Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki. The pools can be accessed through the Dawson’s Falls visitor entrance. It’s roughly a 20-minute walk to reach the pools if you head straight there.
You can also choose to hike the Wilkies Pools loop track. This moderate-difficulty trail is 2.7 km (1.7 mi) and takes just over an hour. Walk through the beautiful greenery of the Goblin Forest, stepping along clear pathways at a steady incline. You’ll then cross the swing bridge above Kapuni Stream before reaching your final destination – Wilkies Pools!
Once you arrive, take your sweet time to enjoy the natural pools When I came here, it was a particularly hot day, and the fresh water felt glorious. It’s the perfect way to cool off and treat yourself after a hike (even if it was a short one!).
Depending on the rainfall, you might see some waterfalls or just some peaceful streams flowing down the rocks. After your dip in Wilkies Pools, continue along the loop track or return the way you came to save a little time.
Related Read: If warm water is more your thing, check out the best hot springs and pools in New Zealand here!
Take in the views on Kent Road
One of the best things to do in Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki is to take some epic photographs. And one of the most iconic is on Kent Road. As you can see in my photos above, it’s a classic rural road with a stunning backdrop.
This photo spot is an Instagrammers dream. I suggest getting here in the early morning for an unobstructed shot. Although only a quick stop, this is truly one of the best views in Egmont National Park!
North Egmont Visitor Centre
When visiting the national park, you’ll probably pass by the North Egmont Visitor Centre. This center is a one-stop shop for all the trail and weather info of the area. You can also talk to DOC staff and purchase some of their retail items. There’s also a big parking lot and a cafe as well.
If you’re going on a hike, make sure to use the toilets at the center before heading out. The center is open daily from 8 am – 3:30 pm – which is probably when you’ll start your hikes anyways.
Before one of my treks, I got a drink and a toasted sandwich at the Kamahi Cafe (which is open seasonally). I also took a 5-minute walk to check out the viewing platform. It’s an easy stroll along a boardwalk through the native wilderness. And at the end, I was rewarded with a scenic view of the coast, Ruapehu, Ngaruahoe, and Tongariro National Park.
There are several short walks in North Egmont. I really enjoyed the Ambury Monument Walk. This 10-minute stroll led to a memorial for Arthur Ambury, who died trying to save someone who slipped on ice. The trail was beautiful, and I was welcomed with an awesome view of Mount Taranaki/Taranaki Maunga.
From here, instead of returning back the way you came, I recommend continuing for an additional 15 minutes along the Nature Walk trail. Wander through the lush forest, up some steps, and loop back to the visitor center.
Mount Egmont Viewing Platform
Drive to Mount Egmont Viewing Platform for a fantastic panoramic view of Mount Taranaki/Taranaki Maunga and its surroundings. It’s the perfect place to capture an awesome vista without doing any hiking!
The platform is a 20-minute drive from Stratford, following the winding Pembroke Road. I found the drive itself super pretty, with green pastures and rolling hills. Once you arrive, park at the large Stratford Plateau Parking Lot. From here, it’s just a 2-minute walk along a gravel path and wooden boardwalk with rails.
The open viewing platform is quite breathtaking and looks out over the volcano. I snapped some awesome photos here – including the one above!
In the summer, you should have a nice clear view. If you visit during the colder months, there may be some fog and also snow on the mountain. Overall, I thought it was so cool how you could literally drive right up to such a perfect viewing location. So if you’re not into hiking, no worries, go here!
8. Can you visit Egmont National Park in winter?
You sure can visit Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki in winter. However, I’d avoid hiking to the summit if you are not experienced in alpine mountaineering. During the colder months, it’s best to stick to shorter walks (but you’ll still need the appropriate gear). Luckily, there are lots of short walks in Egmont National Park to choose from!
Skiing in Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki
Another great activity is going skiing on the volcano! While New Zealand has great skiing, it’s not every day you can glide down a volcano.
If you need to rent equipment, visit Taranaki Ski Hire on your way. It’s conveniently located close to Stratford on Pembroke Road. Skis cost $30 NZD, a board costs $38 NZD, and there are lots of gear packages for rent. If you need everything from boots and ski poles to goggles and gloves – they’ve got you covered (quite literally).
Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki is truly beautiful all year round. In the summer, the skies are clear and the temperature is hot. But in the winter, the snow-capped volcano is also a gorgeous sight to see. Ultimately, the best time to visit depends on what type of activities you’re hoping for.
9. How long do you need to visit Egmont National Park?
I think you’ll need at least two or three days to explore Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki.
Honestly, there’s so much to see and do in this large park. A couple of days will allow you to complete an overnight hike and enjoy staying at the Pouakai Tarn or another hut (which I feel really adds to the experience!).
You don’t want to rush your trip or feel pressured to hike quickly. Instead, take your time so you can be present and soak it all in. The more days you have, the better.
However, if you do only have one day available, I’d still visit Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki! See and do what you can, and be sure to come back. Just make a note of what you’d like to explore the next time!
10. Is visiting Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki worth it?
Yes! Visiting Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki is so worth it!
If you’ve always wanted to go to a dormant volcano, this is your chance. It’s not only one of the most iconic and sacred locations in Taranaki, but it’s just so gorgeous. I honestly believe it’s one of the most beautiful sights in New Zealand. This diverse landscape is really something to witness and explore.
No matter your age or fitness level, there are many things you can see and do at this fantastic national park. Some solely come to hike to the summit of Mount Taranaki/Taranaki Maunga. Others prefer to explore a variety of short walks and go skiing. Regardless of what you choose, you’ll have such a good time!
My number one recommendation is to definitely make time to see the stunning Pouakai Tarn – you will not regret it! Also, do not underestimate the beauty and fun of doing shorter walks. The base of Mount Taranaki/Taranaki Maunga is worth exploring too!
Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand
Let’s face it, you’re going to need wheels to get around New Zealand. Although a small country, buses between destinations are infrequent and expensive. Plus, some of the best experiences you can have in NZ are on road trips!
You have three options when it comes to getting wheels in New Zealand; a car, a campervan, or a motorhome. Here’s what you need to know about each and where to get them:
- Car – A normal car is the cheapest rental vehicle you can get in New Zealand. It’ll get you around to all of the best destinations with ease. The only downside to a car is that you will need to stay in hotels or Airbnbs during your travels (no camping.) The easiest place to rent a car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare cars, companies, prices, features, and more very easily.
- Campervan – A Campervan is a large van that has a bed and a small kitchen in the back. It is what most budget backpackers get for traveling around New Zealand since it allows you to camp comfortably and for free (most) nights. Campervans are best for couples or solo travelers who are happy to live in a small space. You should also love the outdoors and camping! You can easily compare campervans, prices, and book on the website Motorhome Republic. We also have a 5% discount code (QUEEN5) with Mad Campers, which you can use at checkout.
- Motorhome – A motorhome is larger and more comfortable than a campervan. Many motorhomes will comfortably sleep 6 or more people – perfect for a family visiting New Zealand. Motorhomes are the most expensive option, but with one, you won’t ever need to stay in a hotel and you’ll save money that way. Motorhome Republic is my suggested website for booking a motorhome in New Zealand simply because they are a reliable company and the website is super easy to use! We are also partnered with Kiwi Motorhomes, which is well known as the top motorhome rental company in New Zealand. You can get 5% off using the code Queen5. For more detailed info, read my complete guide to renting a motorhome in New Zealand!
Travel Insurance Has Your Back!
Life can be unpredictable and when you’re traveling abroad the last thing you want to worry about is getting sick or injured and having to pay out of pocket for treatment.
If this concerns you, SafetyWing can help! SafetyWing specializes in very affordable and comprehensive medical and travel insurance that is aimed at digital nomads, remote workers, and long-term travelers. It costs just $45 USD per 4 weeks!
To start coverage you must purchase it after leaving your home country, so we usually purchase it as soon as we land in the airport.
Since using SafetyWing we’ve been reimbursed thousands of dollars when we’ve gotten sick. During the pandemic, they’ve even gone as far as to pay for our last-minute flights back to Canada before the border closed!
Thanks for reading!
If you have an adventurous soul and love being outdoors, you’ll want to visit Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki. This volcanic landscape is one of my favorite spots in all of New Zealand. I hope I’ve convinced you to plan your trip – and that this guide helps you do it!
If you’re traveling through other parts of the country, read my blogs about New Zealand here. To get an idea of what I write about, here are some relevant articles to get you started: