If, like me, you grew up on Enid Blyton’s tales of goblins and enchanted forests, or you’ve secretly hoped to find a Hobbit in Middle Earth, taking a walk on Mount Taranaki’s lower slopes will have your imagination firing up.
Tall and twisted Kāmahi tree trunks covered in lush green ferns and mosses, their roots forming natural steps in the tracks.
A winding path through a carpet of green.
Overhanging branches mystically draped with more greenery.
Grasses growing in the trees and along the paths.
Piwakawaka (fantail) flitting about overhead.
During our recent trip to Taranaki I was keen to revisit the Maunga of my childhood, Mount Taranaki, or as we knew it back then, Mount Egmont.
We drove up to East Egmont Mountain Lodge from Stratford, 15 kilometres up Pembroke Road from SH 3.
From here there are a number of walks, some short 15-20 minutes, and some longer. You can also walk to Dawson Falls and Wilkies Pool from here if you have the time.
Come and take the Kāmahi Walk with me through the goblin forest…
Expect to be enthralled…
And look out for hairy feet and goblin ears.
Just kidding 🙂
Seen from the air, Mt Taranaki is an almost perfect cone shape, slap bang in the middle of the jutting out bump on the map, on the west coast of the North Island.
That is Taranaki. The place of my birth.
We lived in South Taranaki and when I was growing up, we regularly went up to Dawson Falls on the south side of the mountain.
If there was snow at the Lodge, then it was a given. We’d be there. Snow that low down didn’t happen often.
I was familiar with the lush forest and trees that become more squat and thin as you climb the mountain track towards the Syme and Kapuni Huts on Fantham’s Peak (Māori name Panitahi).
These were my first experiences of New Zealand’s native flora, where I learned to identify some, and appreciate the colours and smells of the bush.
I remember my older brother Kelvin telling my sister Carole and I, if we picked a leaf of Mountain Horopito and bit it, it would be sweet.
It wasn’t. (He was a tease.)
It was pungent and kind of peppery.
We didn’t know it’s name back then, or that it had long been used for medicinal purposes, but we recognised it.
Today, as a new interest in traditional Māori foods and remedies is coming to the fore, it can be bought dried, and used as a tea or seasoning.
I was thrilled to reacquaint myself with a place that will always hold a special place in my heart.