The ESSENTIAL guide to Taranaki in Winter

Many argue that Taranaki is at its most beautiful in Winter. The mountain looks like it has been sprinkled with icing sugar, the fields are greener and you get those crisp sunny afternoons, perfect for sitting back and enjoying a hot cuppa. There are a few things about visiting Taranaki in winter that can make your trip all the better, so we have created an essential guide to ensure you make the most of all the region has to offer in the cooler months.

Here’s all you need to know about Taranaki in winter:

1. There is a lot to do.

From our many museums and art galleries (see the full guide on the right) to the busy events calendar, Taranaki is a fantastic place to visit in winter.

There is plenty to keep you busy no matter what the weather decides to do. Be sure to check out the latest exhibitions at Puke Ariki, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth and the Percy Thomson Gallery in Stratford.
Many museums and galleries host school holiday programmes and weekend family fun workshops that are worth checking out if you have little ones to keep entertained.

If they need to let off some steam, we also have aquatic centres, trampoline parks, ten pin bowling, indoor playlands and indoor mini putt golf on offer.

On Sundays, why not take a day trip around the mountain to South Taranaki? 

Tawhiti Museum and Traders and Whalers is widely known as New Zealand’s best privately owned museum.

If you stop by and see the team at Hawera iSITE you will be able to climb the steps of the Hawera Water Tower where you will not only warm up from the exercise, but also see a stunning view of Mt Taranaki, the sea and Hawera township from the top.

On the way home, find one of Taranaki’s many isolated beaches, snug up and watch the wild west coast in winter – the crashing waves and black sand beaches are very dramatic but beautiful! 

Finally, check that the road is open (alerts pop up on the DOC website if there are any problems) and head to North Egmont Visitor Centre.

In winter, you can often find snow to touch.You’ll be able to feel the temperature drop as you cautiously drive up the beautiful windy road to the North Egmont roadend under a canopy of native bush.

Learn about the majestic mountain and its fascinating history from the interactive displays at the visitor centre and spot other north island mountain ranges Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngaruahoe.

To top it all off, grab a coffee and some hot chips from the café to warm you up before heading back to your accommodation.

2. The restaurants are worth exploring

There’s nothing better than warming up with delicious hot food and drink and Taranaki is very lucky when it comes to wining and dining.

New Plymouth especially is worth exploring with its many cafes, restaurants and bars on offer not only on the main streets, but also down hidden laneways, in old buildings and on side streets. In winter, many offer specialties such as the mulled wine available at cocktail lounge Snug Bar; Social Kitchen offers a Sunday Roast for lunch (we tested this out last week and got slow cooked Pork Belly with blue cheese gnocchi, fennel salad and roasted beetroot salad…..); healthy winter soup at Bare Thrills; the wild burger specials at Prohibition and plenty more to make your mouth water.
If you want a true wintery experience, book a table at Dawson Falls Mountain Lodge or Stratford Mountain House. Both are situated in Egmont National Park and offer delicious fare.

3. The mountain can be dangerous

While there are many short walks on the lower parts of Mt Taranaki and the surrounding ranges that can be explored safely in winter, extra caution is required when taking on the more challenging tracks. It is not safe to attempt to climb to the summit or upper mountain without alpine gear such as an ice axe, crampons and a lot of alpine mountaineering experience.

No matter where you are exploring, make sure you are wearing appropriate warm clothes, layers and hardy, waterproof walking shoes.

Snow, ice and wet ground can be slippery even on the easier tracks so caution is always required.

There are guiding companies available that can check your gear, transport you to the mountain and guide you on many of Mt Taranaki’s hiking tracks. For more information on these, contact to your nearest iSITE.

Contact the Egmont National Park Visitor Centre for up-to-date conditions prior to heading out on the mountain – the weather and mountain conditions are very changeable.

If in doubt, just head up to the North Egmont Visitor Centre, grab a coffee and take the five minute scenic loop walk that leaves from the carpark. You still get the amazing views, native bush land and mountain conditions but it isn’t as much of a risk!