New Plymouth is a lovely, small coastal city near Mount Taranaki – and a less touristy part of New Zealand that is also home to some pretty awesome treks! What’s not to like!?

Most of the hikes near New Plymouth are located within the Egmont National Park where you’ll hike up to waterfalls, reflective pools, and stunning viewpoints overlooking the famous Mount Taranaki.

We were lucky enough to spend a bit of time in New Plymouth exploring the cafes and the stunning coastline, and of course, going to the mountains to smash out some awesome hikes in the area.

There is a ton of hiking in the area but these 3 hikes near New Plymouth are our personal favourites that we recommend you do if you have a few days in New Plymouth! 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means if you decide to use the links and make a valid purchase, we will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!

3 Great treks to do near New Plymouth

Know before you go:

This area of New Zealand is absolutely beautiful and we really enjoyed hiking in the Egmont National Park.

The view of Mount Taranaki is one of the wonders of New Zealand so just being in this area is magical (which, by the way, we also had from our homestay!!).

Seeing it for the first time absolutely blew our minds – honestly. We were driving in and out of nowhere we just saw this massive volcano in front of us.

For the view alone, it is worth spending some time in New Plymouth.

But getting up close to nature and hiking near Mt Taranaki is also pretty epic. All three of the hikes in this post are very different in terms of distance, views, and terrain – and all three are worth doing if you have the time!

Pouakai Tarns is by far the most famous hike in the area (right after hiking Mt Taranaki) as it gives you that perfect reflection of Mount Taranaki.

Paritutu Rock on the other hand gives a stunning view of the coastline near New Plymouth.

Lastly, Dawson Falls takes you to a stunning waterfall in a magical forest within the national park.

So the variety between these three hikes is amazing and if you get the chance to do all three while you’re in New Plymouth then you’re in for an amazing time!

#1 Pouakai Tarns Overlooking Mount Taranaki

Stunning photo of the reflection of Mount Taranaki in the tarns.

Practical information about trekking from Mangorei trailhead to Pouakai Tarns

Distance: 12.4 km return / 7.7 miles return
Elevation: 777 m / 2550 ft. elevation gain
Type: In and out trail 
Length: 3.4-4 hours return (time for photos along the way and a snack) 
Difficulty: Hard (easy surface but lots of ascent)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Click here to see a trail map for the Pouakai Tarns trek.

Hiking Tip: Look up the trail on AllTrails before starting your hike 🗺️. You can find important trail information such as recent wildlife sights and trail closures. Check out the free version here or get a 7-day free trial of AllTrails+ here.

Taking in the reflective view of Mount Taranaki from Pouakai Tarns

If there’s one hike you HAVE to do while visiting this part of New Zealand, it’s Pouakai Tarns. As long as the weather is good and the skies are clear, you’re in for a jaw-dropping view!

The hike itself is great but the iconic picture you can get of Mount Taranaki through the reflective pool at the top of the hike is the reason you have to do it.

That’s why it’s so important to hike up in the morning on a crystal clear day. 

The only downside is that it’s not every day you get a clear blue sky like we did. But we also spent a full week in New Plymouth and waited for the perfect day to do this hike.

Stunning view of a man in front of Mount Taranaki.

All the practical information you need about Pouakai Tarns is in the list above but to get all the information on how to get the perfect reflection, you can check out our full guide to hiking Pouakai Tarns here.

It’s a beautiful hike that takes you from the Mangorei Trailhead up to Pouakai Hut and then eventually to the Pouakai Tarns. 

For the majority of the hike, you’ll walk on a boardwalk through the dense tropical New Zealand forest until you reach the hut.

From there you’ll hike in the open for another 10 minutes until you reach the plateau from where you continue towards the iconic tarns. That’s where, if you’ve planned for the right weather conditions, you’ll be able to capture some awesome photos.

The hike itself isn’t super challenging but it is fairly long with a good chunk of incline – but it’s worth it for the views.

Mount Taranaki is one of the most perfectly symmetrical volcanoes in the world (right after the Mayon Volcano in the Phillippines) and it’s just such an iconic volcano that it’s really cool to see!

Read the full guide: Hiking to the Iconic Pouakai Tarns Overlooking Mount Taranaki

#2 Paritutu Rock in New Plymouth

Dom standing at one of the steepest parts of Paritutu Rock.

Practical information about Paritutu Rock

Distance: 0.6 km return / 0.37 miles return
Elevation: 45 m / 147 ft. elevation gain
Type: In and out trail 
Length: 25-35 minutes return (plus extra time for photos) 
Difficulty: Hard (short but technical)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Click here to see a trail map for the Paritutu Rock trek

Hiking to the top of Paritutu Rock for sunset

You can hike Paritutu Rock at any time of the day but for sunset, it’s just extra magical. Since Paritutu Rock is right on the coast, you have a beautiful coastline in both directions, making it a great place for sunset.

The beauty of this hike is that it’s located right in town, so if you are staying in New Plymouth for a few days, you can go do it whenever it fits your schedule.

It only takes half an hour or so (+ breaks) return if you’re in decent hiking shape. So expect to spend around 1 hour on it in total.

Even though it’s not a full-on hike there is quite a bit of elevation and a section where you need to use a chain which feels like it’s almost a straight vertical ascent to the top.

So it is quite adventurous and super fun as long as you’re comfortable with it!

Dom enjoying the view from the peak of Paritutu Rock.

When you’re at the top, you can also get a pretty amazing view of Mount Taranaki on a clear day.

There is quite a large “platform area” at the top of Paritutu so you can walk around and take in the view of the coast and also look back at Mount Taranaki.

Sadly, we only got to see the top of him (Mt Taranaki is male according to Maōri legends) but the sunset over the ocean still made the hike worth the effort.

Even though you’re basically in New Plymouth it does feel like you are out in nature while hiking to the top of Paritutu Rock.

We’re sure that no matter if you go for sunrise, sunset, or in the middle of the day, you’ll love the view from the top.

Read the full guide: Hiking to the Top of Paritutu Rock for Sunset

#3 Wilkies Pools via Dawson Falls Loop track

Jo standing next to the famous Dawson Falls waterfall near Taranaki.
Dom taking in the view from Wilkies Pools.

Practical information about Wilkies Pools via Dawson Falls loop

Distance: 6 km return / 3.72 miles return
Elevation: 145 m / 475 ft. elevation gain
Type: Loop trail (can also be done as an in-and-out trail)
Length: 1.5-2 hours return (time for photos and snacks) 
Difficulty: Moderate (surface can be uneasy at times depending on the weather)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Click here to see a trail map for Wilkies Pools via Dawson Falls loop

Hiking the Wilkies Pools and Dawson Falls loop track

Last but certainly not least is the hike to Wilkies Pools and Dawson Falls. Two beautiful spots in the Egmont National Park that are super close to each other and can easily be done as a loop trail hike.

Located on the west side of the Egmont National Park you’ll find the Dawson Falls Visitor Center which is where this hike starts.

The last stretch of the drive to the visitor center is beautiful as well! It was one of those pinch-me moments where we asked ourselves how this place is even real!?

Dom hiking up some stairs to the Dawson Falls waterfall in New Zealand.

The hike itself is pretty flat with only a bit of elevation and it can be done in any direction you choose. We decided to do it clockwise and we thought it was a great way to do it!

You can check out this post on Wilkies Pools that goes into detail about the hike – where to park, what to expect, what to bring, and more.

We would argue that this hike is the least weather-dependent out of the three in this post. You’ll still be able to enjoy the pools and the waterfall on a cloudy day – as long as it’s not pouring down (which, in that case, you shouldn’t go).

The only downside is that you won’t get a view of Mount Taranaki.

But that’s alright since if you’re spending some time in New Plymouth and plan to do some of the other hikes you’ll hopefully get plenty of opportunities to see Mount Taranaki. 

Read the full guide: Exploring Wilkies Pools and Dawson Falls Loop Trail

What to bring on your hikes around New Plymouth

Since all three of these hikes are quite different in terms of difficulty, terrain, and distance you’ll need different things for each hike.

So you can use this list below more as an inspirational guide for these hikes. Just check the weather before going and pack accordingly!

General packing list for hiking in New Zealand:

  • Water! We always fill up our LifeStraw bottles before hikes or day trips and even during them when we can. We try to bring at least 1.5-2 litres for most hikes so you have enough – especially during the summer months. 
  • Sunscreen!! There have been multiple occasions while we’ve been hiking in New Zealand and the UV index has shown between 8 and 10!! Even on cloudy days, you can get seriously sunburned. The sun in NZ is unlike anywhere else.
  • A power bank is good to bring – especially if you plan to take lots of pictures and videos or if you want to go on some of the side trails. There are definitely times when the power bank comes in handy!
  • Some snacks to enjoy at the viewpoints and stops along the way. Snacking is one of the best parts of hiking, right? 😉

We use hiking poles on almost every hike we do but truthfully, for these three, you don’t really need them at all (especially not on Pouakai Tarns as they’ll get stuck in the boardwalk).

The best affordable camera for beginners

The Sony Alpha a6000 mirrorless camera

If you’re looking for the best and most affordable camera for beginners, check out the Sony Alpha a6000 Camera.

This is the camera we’ve been using for years and still use to this day.

It’s perfect for travelling and super easy to use – even if you’re a beginner.

Before you hike in the Egmont National Park

Jo hiking along the Wilkies Falls trail.

Check the weather in the Egmont National Park

Rain or shine you can hike to the falls (as long as it’s not pouring down), but of course, it’s going to be a lot more enjoyable if the weather is good – and then you can swim in the pools as well!

You can check the weatherforecast for the Egmont National Park here!

If the weather is looking amazing then consider doing the Pouakai Tarns trek since that one is the most weather-dependent!

Wear hiking shoes

We wear hiking shoes or hiking boots on almost every outdoor adventure we do – these three included.

If you don’t have any hiking boots, we highly recommend the Newton Ridge waterproof hiking boots from Columbia. Jo got these recently and she loves them!

👩🏼‍⚕️ Is your trip insured?
SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance covers hiking and mountaineering up to 4500 meters 🏔️

Leave no trace

When you go hiking (and do other outdoor adventure activities), always remember to follow the 7 principles of leaving no trace.

This means:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare.
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  3. Dispose of waste properly.
  4. Leave what you find.
  5. Minimize campfire impacts.
  6. Respect wildlife.
  7. Be considerate of others.

Renting a car in New Zealand

Car rental from Auckland Airport.
Our little hybrid Prius that we rented in Auckland

We’ve had car hires here in New Zealand for our whole trip and we’ve really enjoyed having it – especially when getting to some of the different trailheads.

The cars we booked on both islands were through DiscoverCars. DiscoverCars works like a search engine that compares all the different cars from different rental companies and shows you the best price.

The one in the picture above we picked up at Auckland Airport and it was a small but good car which we got at a really good price. We managed to snag a really good deal for $50 NZD per day including insurance during peak season.

The longer in advance you book your car, the more likely you are to find a good deal. You can find and hire your rental car for New Zealand here.

Another option is also to rent a big enough SUV that you can sleep in some nights (this is what we did on the south island).

If you want to save some money on accommodation or sleep in some more remote places, this is a good option that is a lot cheaper than renting a van! 😉

There are quite a few good campsites near Egmont National Park that you can stay at before and after hiking these trails.

Auckland airport car hire in New Zealand photo.

PS: DiscoverCars doesn’t just work from Auckland Airport. It can be used at pretty much any airport or city in the World. We’ve also used them in Italy, Portugal, and the Czech Republic.

📍 Want to know about all the best spots in Aotearoa New Zealand?
Then check out our New Zealand Maps with +200 locations around the country that we have visited during our 8 months of living and travelling in NZ! 🗺️

You may also like…

Recap of 3 awesome hikes near New Plymouth

Mount Taranaki from a distance.

We hope you found this hiking guide helpful and that you enjoy your time in New Plymouth.

It’s a lot less touristy than some other areas in New Zealand because it’s a bit out of the way from all the other hot spots that everyone goes to – but it’s definitely worth spending some time in this coastal ‘city’. 

Even if it’s just to see Mount Taranaki and hike in the Egmont National Park, it’s absolutely worth a visit!

We hope you get a chance to do all three of these hikes during your visit!

If you have questions about hiking in this area (or hiking in New Zealand in general) then feel free to reach out to us by leaving a comment below or sending us a DM on Instagram.

We’re always more than happy to give some recommendations or try and help out where we can!

Enjoy New Zealand and New Plymouth, and hopefully, you get some awesome weather while you are here.

📍 Save this post for later & share it with a friend

Posted in ,

You may also like...

Leave a Comment