Next onto the main reason we chose the western route up the North Island: Mount Taranaki.
Windmill at Foxton
Windmill at Foxton
We headed up SH1 and went through several interesting towns, including Foxton which boasts a full-sized working windmill built 2000-2003 with most of the structure and innards brought in from Holland.
Ann fitting a whale tooth into a whale jawbone
Ann fitting a whale tooth into a whale jawbone at the Maori Craft Centre, Foxton

Also a most interesting Maori craft centre where they told us all the various items they made – most of which, although very attractive, were used as weapons, much of which appeared to be to do with sticking things up your nose or in your ears. Eye-watering stuff.
I also noticed a sheep on someone’s front lawn in central Foxton – acting as an effective lawn mower.
Tsunami preparation
Tsunami preparation

On to Whangerei with its wide river and then onto Hawera where the road divides to go either south and west around Mt Taranaki or to go up the east side, both routes ending at New Plymouth.
Mount Taranaki from the southern plains
Mount Taranaki from the southern plains

Mount Taranaki from the southern plains showing the dairy farming.
Mount Taranaki from the southern plains showing the dairy farming.

We had hoped to see the mountain with snow on its peak but it is mid-summer after all and the view was not at all disappointing. The most perfect volcano shape on earth.
Taranaki from the south
Taranaki from the south – late afternoon
We had booked into Dawson Falls Mountain Lodge which gives great views of the mountain and at 900 metres high is well on the way up it. Of course there is also the waterfall.
Dawson Falls, Mount Taranaki
Dawson Falls, Mount Taranaki – 60 feet drop

Had some good walks 1) to the Dawson Falls 60ft waterfall – both to a lookout above the falls and down some steep wet steps to the base of the falls;
Wilkie Pools - Mount Taranaki
Wilkie Pools – Mount Taranaki
2) up to the Wilkie Pools, several small pools in a row fed by the cascading water. Climbing up the side of the pools was a bit tricky but worth the effort.
Taranaki from the south - morning
Taranaki from the south – morning
First thing the mountain had been clear of cloud and a sight to behold but by the time we walked up cloud had descended. The area around the volcano was actually clear and sunny but the peak was shrouded in cloud.
The volcano is lovely. It hasn’t erupted for 250 years but presumably it is not extinct so could erupt again – and given NZ’s penchant for seismic activity and geothermal areas, that wouldn’t be too surprising.
Taranaki goblin forest
Taranaki goblin forest

Taranaki goblin forest
Taranaki goblin forest

Taranaki goblin forest
Taranaki goblin forest
The forest on the mountain’s lower slopes were also straight out of goblin-land.
Long tramps around the marked trails were off-limits for us this time as we both felt a bit weary with the body in need of a bit of restoration. So we made a quick trip to Stratford in the afternoon – couldn’t imagine anywhere less like Shakespeare’s town. The main A3 goes right through the middle so it is a hot noisy main street even allowing for the light NZ traffic and the idea of a by-pass seems to have passed NZ by.
In the hospital at the Pioneer Village
In the hospital at the Pioneer Village – Men’s Ward

In the hospital at the Pioneer Village
In the hospital at the Pioneer Village – Women’s Ward
We also visited the pioneer village, an estate of forty or so buildings saved from various locations in the area and re-erected in this village site. And the buildings are full of artefacts. Great idea and they clearly get a lot of stuff donated.

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