Exploring Egmont National Park…..
We had a relatively short afternoon drive to get to our accommodation at Dawson Falls on the opposite side of Mt Taranaki from our starting point in New Plymouth. On the way there we stopped off at the Egmont North Information Centre to get some information on walking options in the park. We were happy to find that there were plenty of good alternatives starting from our accommodation. In fact, the Dawson Falls Mountain Lodge turned out the perfect place to stay as we discovered that all the trails were accessed directly from there.
From the lodge carpark, we were able to see Mt Taranaki, and on being shown our room, were ecstatic to find a view of the mountain from the enclosed balcony. We were really fortunate during our stay to be treated to views of the peak every day.
On the second evening, the mist rolled in and the couple that arrived that night were devastated that there was nothing to be seen. They were grateful to wake up to blue skies the following morning.
Soon after checking in, we decided to stretch our legs with a short walk to a nearby waterfall. We weren’t brave enough to join them, but watched a few young people taking a dip in the cold water.
On the way back, we took a detour via an old power generator installed in 1934 and still used to supply some of the power needs at our hotel.
Up peaks, down dales and through forests…..
We had an early start the next day as we wanted to see the sun rise. The morning light was amazing, reflecting on the mountain.
We joined a young couple from the US for breakfast before heading out on our challenge for the day. Whilst we’d decided not to attempt Mt Taranaki, we chose to climb the neighbouring Fanthams Peak.
We started out under clear blue skies, but no sooner had we reached the high scree slopes than the mist rolled up the mountain. We watched a climber slide down the scree, falling a couple of times as she went and then joined her, sliding down the loose rock (but not falling), until we arrived back at the wooden staircase taking us back down.
The rest of the day was spent walking through goblin forests, alongside and across rivers and following ridge tracks. The mountain hut where we stopped for lunch was well-equipped, with toilet, water, sinks and two large bedrooms with thin mattresses. We didn’t need any of it as we were heading back to the lodge for a bath and dinner.
Travelling the Forgotten World Highway….
At the recommendation of our friend Murray, we chose a winding, but very scenic old farm road to make our way from Dawson Falls to our next port of call, Ohakune, a mountain village bordering on the Tongariro National Park near Mt Ruapehu. The highway started in Stratford, a small town founded in the late 1800s and named after Shakespeare’s Stradford-on-Avon. Before turning on to the historic road, we passed the renowned Glockenspiel Clock Tower down the main street.
As we began our journey along the meandering roadway, heavy mist shrouded the way and made for an eerie mood. As we continued across the four saddles, it became clearer and we marvelled at the green hills. Of the 150km stretch, only 12km was gravel as it passed through a deep gorge.
Lunch was a fresh scone and coffee at Lauren’s Lavender Farm, sitting outside savouring the scent of the mauve flowers. The only other people there was a group of elderly ladies from one of the nearby towns.