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September 2015 Issue
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A wintry plunge

Beautiful ice formations at Taranaki Falls during a very cold winter morning

Taranaki Falls, Tongariro National Park / Easy


During the winter months, the Central Volcanic Plateau gets a handful of polar blasts which bring snow to low level. If you’re near Whakapapa Village when one comes through, take the opportunity to re-discover the surrounding short walks which have been transformed by the magical white dust and freezing temperatures.

One such walk is the Taranaki Falls Track. The highlight, as the name suggests, is Taranaki Falls, where the water of the Wairere Stream plunges 20m. On really cold days, beautiful rime ice and icicles form on the cliff face. The usually crystal clear water of the plunge pool freezes in the periphery and only the force of the waterfall prevents the middle of the pool from freezing over completely.

The waterfall can be viewed up close – either enjoy the cold shower at its base, or admire the exhilarating view from the top.

The Upper and Lower Taranaki Falls tracks start from Ngauruhoe Place, in Whakapapa Village, and converge near the waterfall, allowing this walk to be done as a loop. The upper track passes through a windswept tussock field, with panoramic views of the surrounding volcanoes in their winter coats. The lower track offers a sheltered and serene walk inside a beech forest. Finish the walk in style by treating yourself to high tea at the historic Chateau Tongariro.

– Zhi Yuen Yap

Wild File:

Access: Ngauruhoe Place, Whakapapa Village

Grade: Easy

Time: 2hr return

Maps: BH34, BJ34