Egmont National Park
Circular national park on the North Island's west coast, home to an intense rainforest landscape, a towering volcanic mountain, and yet close to the sea.
Egmont National Park is a perfectly round expanse of 335 square kilometres, established in 1900 and is unique, not just in its shape, but the fact that it is dominated by a single peak, the majestic Mount Taranaki (also called Mount Egmont). Being on the west coast, the area receives a lot of rainfall, which contributes to the lushness of the forests below the mountain, which wouldn't look out of place in Indonesia or Brazil, such is their density.
The largest town in the area is New Plymouth, to the north, which is a popular resort holding many annual arts and cultural events. To the east of the park is Stratford, the geographical centre of the Taranaki region, which enjoys amazing views of the peak and is where many skiers, snowboarders and hikers choose to make their base when visiting the park. Aside from being the eastern gateway to Egmont National Park, Stratford also gives western access to Whanganui National Park.
Inglewood and Egmont Village are also within easy reach of the main tourist road to the peak, and are the closest settlements to the recommended North Egmont Visitor Centre. Along the western borders of the park, the small villages of Opunake, Rahotu and Okato give easy access to the ocean. The main reason for coming here, though, is definitely the awesome spectacle of Mount Taranaki. Because the mountain stands largely alone (although there are two other ranges in the park, Pouakai and Kaitaki), there is plenty of flatter land at the bottom, through which walkers of all abilities can tramp, and the rich vegetation offers a wider-than-usual variety of trees, plants, birds and other wildlife to look out for.
Highlights here include the Goblin Forest, the Stony River Walkway, plenty of waterfall strolls (Dawson Falls) and, for the more experienced hiker, the Mount Taranaki Summit Trail, which offers unrivalled views over the rich, agricultural land below.
First time visitors should head to the tourist centres at North Egmont and Dawson Falls, where you can find detailed, interactive displays about the region, accommodation details, and helpful maps and guides to point you in the right direction for the best views and sights.