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  • Writer's pictureRach Stewart


Lake Mangamahoe Taranaki Photography

Lake Mangamahoe Taranaki is one of those locations that has it all when it comes to New Zealand landscape photography. An almost perfectly symmetrical mountain (Taranaki Maunga), a beautiful lake that reflects the said perfect mountain, and lush forest (some native and some pine) surrounding the lake making it an absolute dream for creating that beautifully framed Mount Taranaki photo.

Lake Mangamahoe Taranaki is actually a man made lake that was created in 1931 by forming a dam across the valley and flooding the land. The lake was named after the Mangamahoe Stream which flows into the lake.

It is from the Dam that I first found one of my favourite views of Mount Taranaki which was at sunset when the lake was still and beautifully reflecting Mount Taranaki. I had completed the Pouakai Tarns hike 3 times before this and when I saw that the view from Lake Mangamahoe was just as beautiful with much less effort for reward, I decided that this place was my go to for Mount Taranaki images!

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Lake Mangamahoe is located about 10 minutes drive south of New Plymouth city on State Highway 3 in Taranaki.

Access to the lake is on a well formed gravel road off Junction Road (which is opposite Kent Road, another famous Mount Taranaki photo location eg. Mount Taranaki Road Shot).

Kent Road Mount Taranaki
Kent Road opposite the turn off to Lake Mangamahoe

Within the reserve is the Lake Mangamahoe Circuit which is a 6km walking track around the lake and well worth it if you have time to get your daily steps in!




ND Filters


Zoom Lens (eg. 70-200mm lens or similar)

Because Mount Taranaki is situated in the distance, your best lens for the Lake Mangamahoe photo locations in this blog are your zoom lenses. This will help compress Mount Taranaki in your photo and make it look as if it is up close and larger than life in your photo.

I would suggest bringing your tripod with you if you're looking to shoot at either sunrise, sunset, golden hours, or with ND filters to help smooth out the water and keep your camera still for those slightly longer exposures.



Most of my images from Lake Mangamahoe are taken from the same three locations which are all easily accessible and don't require much effort at all!

As mentioned above, my images have all been taken during sunrise and sunset, when the light is less harsh and there is more chance of a reflection and still water at the beginning and end of the day.

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My favourite location to shoot Lake Mangamahoe is where the Dam is located at the end of the lake. Head to the Lake Mangamahoe Lookout car park which is right at the end of Lake Mangamahoe Road (follow the lake and the road and you'll get to the end. Hop onto the Circuit Track (well sign posted) and you will reach the dam within about 5 minutes.

My favourite time to visit this spot 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 an elevated view over Mount Taranaki and Lake Mangamahoe you can head up to the lookout for a beautifully composed image over the lush forest and lake with Mount Taranaki centred as your focal point.

The lookout viewpoint is just a short 5 minute walk from the Lake Mangamahoe Lookout car park (same location as the Dam above). Hop onto the circuit track and then instead of going towards the Dam you will head right up the stairs. Again it is well signposted.

The view is gorgeous and again works both at sunrise and sunset.



Lake Mangamahoe sunset picnic area
Lake Mangamahoe Rest Area

As you drive down Lake Mangamahoe Road one of the first picnic areas you come across on the right hand side of the road is a great spot to take a photo. With native flax framing the view of Mount Taranaki, this is one of my favourite (and easiest!) views of Mount Taranaki on offer.

There isn't a lot of room to park but you should be ok if you're the only car there.

This is a good Mount Taranaki photo to grab before heading further down the lake to the locations mentioned above (Lake Mangamahoe Dam and Lake Mangamahoe Lookout).

NZ Travel Guide and Map


I have visited Lake Mangamahoe in both summer and winter, and in my opinion for photography my personal preference is Winter being the better option.

Lake Mangamahoe winter reflection
Lake Mangamahoe Taranaki in winter

In winter the air is a lot colder and this helps with less cloud forming and hugging the mountain. Having said that, Mount Taranaki is notorious for hanging out in the clouds! But each time I have visited during the winter time, I've managed to get clear conditions.

And of course, the snow. Mount Taranaki with a fresh coating of snow just can't be beaten. It adds that little something extra to your landscape photo and when the suns light hits the white of the snow it creates the most beautiful pastel pinks and oranges.

So if you're planning an excursion to Taranaki for photography, the months of June to September is your go to period for snowy mountain scenes and beautiful light.



Getting there: Lake Mangamahoe 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

I hope this info helps you plan out your next trip to Taranaki and especially when you visit Lake Mangamahoe for that perfect Mount Taranaki reflection photo!

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.


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