Way back last month we were staying in Hawera with friends and Rob was keen to show us some of the sights and scenes, including getting us closer to Mt Taranaki. Despite having been nearby many times I’d never had an opportunity to go walking anywhere near the mountain. So this was a wonderful offer. Rob is a great host and guide and even turned some good weather for our outing. The forecast worried about high winds but these were mostly higher up and not much of a threat to us.
We headed up through the forest on the southern side. I love the aerial views of Mt Taranaki and the almost circular bush edge around the national park. I guess the boundary was defined as a distance from the summit so a big circle was marked on the map and on the ground. You drive up through farmland and then plunge into the forest, while still driving upwards. Eventually we came to the Dawson Falls Visitor Centre. This was where we had to get out of the car and start walking. We took a while to get organised; our tramping equipment was a bit haphazard but we managed to sort of look like we might have done this sort of thing some time previously.
There was a hut on the snowline, near enough to where the pole is in the photo above; we thought we might get up towards that. The track headed up through some interesting bush; which seems to be generally referred to as ‘goblin forest’.
Eventually we climbed through the forest and into the scrub zone, and still the track climbed onwards.
We walked some more, and talked some more, and walked some more. The day was getting on and it was time for lunch and sitting in the sun. We got as far as where there was snow on the track, but still some way below the hut. But it didn’t matter a bit. We were on The Mountain enjoying a wonderful day out with Rob.
Satisfied by lunch and with our walking efforts, we retraced our steps to the car and headed back down. We stopped off to see Dawson Falls which the area is named after.
The road descended through the forest and re-emerged onto the farmland that makes Taranaki what it is today. As we got further away we had stunning views of Mt Taranaki with all its classic volcanic curves.
We made one last stop on the way home to Hawera. Guide Rob thought we might be interested in a road cutting nearby. We were, it is fascinating. Here you can see how recent (the last 22,000 years) Taranaki has been made, layer by layer.
Across the road an information board explains how each layer got there. Most of it is layers of ash from Taranaki eruptions. But there is a lahar layer from a mudflow from a volcanic collapse of large proportions. And 5cm from when Lake Taupo blew up! Quite quickly you get the idea that this is an active landscape.
It was an enjoyable and rewarding and interesting day and we were very grateful to Rob for showing us some of his province. This account wouldn’t be complete with one last photo of Mt Taranaki; a big little beautiful mountain if ever there was one.