TOP 5 BEAUTIFUL MOUNT TARANAKI PHOTO LOCATIONS
Mount Taranaki would have to be one of New Zealand's most popular photography spots and it's not too hard to see why. Mount Taranaki's perfect symmetrical cone is often compared to Mount Fuji in Japan for their similar stratovolcano shape and design, all perfectly created by nature!
The North Island of New Zealand has four main volcanos that receive a snow covering during the winter, and Mount Taranaki is one of them. A dormant stratovolcano last erupting in 1655, Mount Taranaki photography is an absolute must do for any landscape photographers portfolio or anyone visiting New Zealand wanting to see an incredible mountain and some snow in the winter.
There is something truly magical the first time you lay eyes on Mount Taranaki .. it is an incredibly spiritual place with a long history to the New Zealand native Maori.
I have lost count how many times I have visited the Taranaki Region and Mount Taranaki in particular, it's just too many to remember, but I keep going back time and time again because each photography mission brings back something new and amazing to admire.
The weather can be a little hit and miss at times due to the mountain climate, so make sure you check out the forecast before you begin your journey. yr.no is a great tool to predict cloud cover and weather around the mountain, although Mount Taranaki is just going to do whatever it wants to do!
MOUNT TARANAKI STATISTICS
Elevation: 2,518 metres
Volcano Type: Stratovolcano
Last Major Eruption: 1655
Age: Approximately 135,000 years
Ok lets go and check out the Best Mount Taranaki Photo Spots in New Zealand!
MOUNT TARANAKI LAKE MANGAMAHOE
Lake Mangamahoe is one of the easiest locations to view Mount Taranaki and is a magical spot for photography and getting that all important reflection image of this magnificent mountain. The effort to reward ratio is the best you will find in the region so there are no excuses not to visit! Surrounded by stunning New Zealand bush and reflecting Mount Taranaki so perfectly down the centre, you can't ask for more boxes to be ticked when it comes to landscape photography and a Mount Taranaki photo.
The lake is easily accessible by car and the 6km track that surrounds the shoreline is a great way to see the different vantage points of Mount Taranaki.
The best time to visit for photography is at sunrise and sunset. At both times if the weather is right you will see the colour of the clouds and the light on the mountain. For the location used in these photos, drive to the end of the lake and then take the short walk to the Dam and the Upper Look out (sign posted).
Lake Mangamahoe does form part of a reserve which has gates that shut during the evening, so you will need to be aware of the lock times when wanting to shoot sunrise/sunset and have parked the car within the reserve. During the summer the gates are open from 7am - 8.30pm, and during winter 7am - 6pm.
LAKE MANGAMAHOE INFO:
Getting there: Lake Managamahoe Road, New Plymouth - 10 minutes drive south of New Plymouth city on SH3
Gate hours: 7am - 8.30pm during Summer (approx October to March), 7am - 6pm during Winter (approx April to September)
Best time to photograph: Works both at sunrise and sunset
Facilities: Car parking along with toilet facilities and picnic areas
MOUNT TARANAKI POUAKAI TARNS
The Pouakai Tarns day hike is one of the best views of Mount Taranaki and definitely deserves a mention in this blog. These small alpine tarns provide incredible reflections if you're lucky enough to experience them with no wind, and the Pouakai Tarns Track itself is one of the most scenic New Zealand Day Walks you can do.
There are a few variations to this Mount Taranaki hike, but the fastest route to the Pouakai Tarns is by taking the Mangorei Track from the carpark at the end of Mangorei Road. The track climbs steadily via many many stairs and steps through the forest until it opens up to tussock land.
The 16 bunk Pouakai Hut is not far away after this point and is a great place to stop for a rest, or if you have previously booked, a good time to nab your bunk bed for the night.
About 5 minutes past the Pouakai Hut take the track to the left, follow another 10 minutes down and you will find yourself at the Pouakai Tarns. Enjoy the amazing view of Mount Taranaki and hopefully the reflection photography!
My first time attempting the Pouakai Tarns hike I only got to see Mount Taranaki for around 5 minutes and then it disappeared again into the clouds. However the next two adventures on this hike were absolutely mind blowing and I was able to spend a good amount of time admiring Mount Taranaki from the tarns and surrounding area. At times it felt like I could reach out and touch the mountain!
It is a good idea to stay at the Pouakai Hut for the night, so you can make the most of the photo opportunities at sunset and sunrise, and try out some astrophotography just after the sun sets.
POUAKAI HUT INFO:
Location: End of Mangorei Road (parking available), New Plymouth, Taranaki, North Island
Distance: 11km return
Time: 4-5 hours return
Elevation gain: 806 metres
Hut booking: If staying overnight, the Pouakai Hut must be booked prior
MOUNT TARANAKI RIVER PHOTO
The Hangatahua River (otherwise known as Stoney River) is one of the larger rivers that carry water from Mount Taranaki out to the ocean.
I had seen many stunning images from this location but getting there was a little harder to find as there isn't a lot of information online on where to take this elusive Mount Taranaki photo. The river runs for miles and actually trying to find this unique location was quite difficult! After a lot of research and driving down a gravel road with large rocks and all sorts, my partner and I found the spot we had been looking for.
You will need to head to the Blue Rata Reserve which lies within Taranaki National Park near the town of Okura. This is where the last of the native Blue Rata trees were spared in this area after logging efforts in the early 1900's.
The road you need to take is Saunders Road which requires a bit of patience to drive along as its gravel and a little bumpy, but we were fine in our 2-wheel drive (although a 4wd would be a lot more comfortable). About 200m in you will see a small un-signposted pull over on your right and that is where you need to park the car and take the short walk through the bush which will bring you out onto a stretch sand and boulders.
From here you can find a beautiful composition with Mount Taranaki as your main subject and the flowing river as your foreground.
MOUNT TARANAKI RIVER PHOTO INFO:
Getting there: Head to the Blue Rata Reserve around 200 metres in along Saunders Road, Taranaki. Take the short bush walk to the river.
Road Condition: Saunders Road is gravel and has a few larger rocks so a 4wd would be ideal
Best time to photograph: Sunset and Astrophotography
Facilities: small pull over to park the car, no toilet
MT TARANAKI & THE THREE SISTERS TONGAPORUTU
About an hour before you reach New Plymouth driving from the North you will come across the little town of Tongaporutu. There is a beautiful freedom camping area for self contained vehicles and a stunning inlet where you can take a walk out to the ocean and view the famous seastacks named the Three Sisters and Elephant Rock.
The Three Sisters and Elephant Rock were originally named when there were three 25 metre rock formations and a separate rock formation shaped like an elephant. Unfortunately in 2016 the elephant lost its trunk due to erosion and years before that one of the 'sisters' was also claimed by the sea.
You can visit the Three Sisters and Elephant Rock on the mid to low tide only, so please do check the tide timetable before you leave. The walk along the inlet out to the rock formations from the Tongaporutu Domain only takes around 10 minutes and is so worth the wet/slightly muddy feet to get there. Mount Taranaki can be seen on a clear day behind these magnificent rock formations and at sunset the golden hues are beautiful and light up the beach and the structures.
If you happen to be visiting on the high tide there is still an amazing view to capture from the end of Pilot Road in Tongaporutu. Head to the lookout and you can view the Three Sisters and Elephant rock from above, and on a clear day Mount Taranaki in the distance.
THREE SISTERS TONGAPORUTU PHOTO INFO:
Getting there: Park at the Tongaporutu Domain and then walk approximately 20 minutes out to the coastline.
Another option is to head to the Three Sisters Lookout at the end of Pilot Road.
Tides: The Three Sisters and Elephant Rock can only be reached safely at the mid to low tide. Make sure you check the tide timetables if you are wanting to walk out to them.
Best time to photograph: Sunset and Astrophotography
Facilities: Carpark at the domain and toilet facilities.
CAPE EGMONT LIGHTHOUSE PHOTO
The Cape Egmont Lighthouse is one of the best locations to capture Mount Taranaki and as an added bonus the historic lighthouse contributes such a unique subject in to the frame. It's not often you see such a beautiful lighthouse and an incredibly perfect mountain in the same image.
During the winter months Mount Taranaki's peak is covered in snow and the white of the lighthouse matches so perfectly to create an absolutely stunning wintery scene. If you find yourself at the lighthouse at sunset, the golden glow from the sun closing in on the horizon bathes Mount Taranaki in the most gorgeous pink and orange tones and personally it is my favourite time to photograph this location.
Cape Egmont Lighthouse is located on the southern Taranaki coast about 50 kilometres south west of New Plymouth and was originally opened in 1881. Drive to the end of Cape Road and there is a small parking area along the coastal area.
I have visited the Cape Egmont lighthouse at both sunrise and sunset and although the mountain looked incredible on both occasions, I preferred the conditions and lighting at sunset due to the light hitting the mountain.
It is most definitely one of my favourite Mount Taranaki Photo Locations as it's easy to get to and the view is spectacular.
CAPE EGMONT LIGHTHOUSE PHOTO INFO:
Getting there: Head to Cape Road and the lighthouse will be at the end about 5km in.
Best time to photograph: Sunrise and Sunset
Thanks for taking to time to read my Top 5 Beautiful Mount Taranaki Photo Locations. I hope it inspires you to come to New Zealand and explore the Taranaki Region soon.
If you are interested in prints of any of the New Zealand Landscape Photography seen in this blog, please feel free to head on over to my New Zealand Photography Print Store and have a little look around.