Mount Taranaki; New Zealand's most perfectly formed volcano. If you haven't looked at Mount Taranaki on satellite maps, I would really encourage you to go and have a wee look! It's quite fascinating seeing the incredible symmetry of the volcano cone!
I love driving around the North Island and suddenly spotting the perfectly formed peak of Mount Taranaki peeping out. From all the way out in Tongariro to driving around the rolling farmland in New Plymouth, it's really quite magical seeing the powerful volcano everywhere. In fact I love it so much, I've decided to put together a quick blog outlining some of the spots that I think offer the best views of Mount Taranaki.
But before I get into it, I'll quickly add the typical 'mountain weather' disclaimer! Mount Taranaki tends to do its own thing more often than not, so I would really recommend checking the weather forecast before you plan on visiting the area. Of course, you need to take the forecasts with a pinch of salt as the mountain weather changes as quick as Caramilk sells out in Australia. I can't tell you how many times we have been monitoring a weather forecast, eagerly watching all the beautiful high cloud erupt in the sky and then find the sky fill with grey thick fog in the last ten minutes before sunset. You just have to take whatever you get!
Tip: when checking the forecasts, I would suggest paying attention to the fog percentages as this can really make or break the visibility. We use this forecast when planning trips to Mount Taranaki as it provides estimated percentages for different cloud types and also offers fog and wind speed. Remember high cloud is the best and typically tend to light up/fill with colour at sunrise/sunset. Low cloud often affects visibility.
Alright, fingers crossed you get some glorious weather and this blog will offer you a few good spots to visit :)
1. Pouakai Tarn
Probably no surprises that coming in at number one is the Pouakai Tarn. This is one of those beautiful beautiful spots that you can (and likely will) see endless photos of, but yet, nothing prepares you for just how beautiful it is in real life.
On a still, calm day, the tarn provides you with a perfect mirror reflection of Mount Taranaki. We have done the walk to the tarn twice now (and camped up top) and have to say that we think sunset is the best time to visit. In our opinion it is just slightly better than sunrise!
You will want to give yourself two hours to comfortably get to the tarn from the Mangorei Road Carpark. When we rushed up (with and without our packs) we took approximately 1.5 hours to get to the hut and then a further 15 minutes from there to the tarn. Two hours would be just right we think. DOC suggests 2.5 hours from the carpark to the tarn.
If you want to know more about the walk including track conditions and our photography tips for the tarn, check out our guide to the Pouakai Tarn here.
We also have a blog which details all the different accommodation options for the tarn, how busy it is (now updated May 2020) and this provides more of our overall experience. You can read this here:
Pouakai Tarn Summary
Medium difficulty (definitely walking shoes/hiking boots required but the entire track is on wooden boardwalks which makes it much easier)
Approximately 2 hours walk (one way) from parking
20-25 minutes drive from New Plymouth
Best at sunset and on calm, low wind day for reflections
2. Tongariro Alpine Crossing
This might seem a little funny listing this here, but it's such a beautiful spot and one you really need to have in the back of your mind, otherwise you might just miss it! Especially if you're walking the wrong way!
If you walk the Alpine Crossing in an South-west direction (so heading towards the Mangatepopo carpark from the alpine lakes), there is an absolutely stunning view point of Mount Taranaki on the trail (perfectly peeping out between the rocky outcrops). I would say it's approximately 90 minutes walk from the Red Crater Summit and 50 minutes walk from the Mangatepopo carpark). If you have a zoom lens, this spot becomes absolutely magic and at sunset, people will appear as silhouettes which adds a bit of interest. I would say this spot is best at sunset, but I appreciate being here in the evening can be a little difficult given the parking restrictions for Tongariro.
Our estimate at the coordinates is: -39.1413735, 175.6101207
Tongariro Alpine Crossing Summary - Taranaki Viewpoint
Medium/Hard walk (definitely require walking/hiking shoes)
Approximately 90 minutes walk from Mangatepopo car park
Approximately 50 minutes walk from the Red Crater Summit viewpoint
3.5 hours drive from New Plymouth (to Mangatepopo carpark)
Best at sunset for awesome silhouettes
3. Kent Road
See those epic road-shots of Mount Taranaki on a perfectly lined up road? Remember at the start of this blog when I said to check out Mount Taranaki on satellite maps, well in doing this, you may have noticed that there are several roads that look like