June 15, 2020
Egmont National Park, New Zealand
Egmont National Park is pretty special. At its center point lies Mt Taranaki, an amazing dominating volcano which can be seen from miles away (I saw it from my last adventure at Tama Lakes, shown here). The National Park is on the West Coast of the North Island and is right next door to New Plymouth. The park offers waterfalls, rainforests, swamps, hiking and camping. I’ve been here a few times and on this occasions I really wanted to do the Pouakai Circuit, however my plans were delayed due to the weather. So instead I went on a “shorter” hike to see a waterfall instead. I say shorter because I may have gotten lost. Read below for more details!
Cape Egmont Lighthouse
On a side note I also went to Cape Egmont Lighthouse, below, and got some amazing pictures of this cool lighthouse with Mt Taranaki in the background. This volcano is definitely photogenic. I actually went here on the day after my Curtis Falls hike and I got really lucky with the weather. As you can see there were a few clouds in the sky but they just added to the awesome landscape scene.
The Curtis Falls Track
The Curtis Falls track starts at the car park at Stratford Mountain House, it’s listed as a 2-3 hour return hike. You start by going down some steep steps in to a valley and then back up the other side. The track itself is a little overgrown and quite wild. I don’t think this track is very popular but I’m unsure why. You drop down into another gorge and you end up at the Manganui River. The river was pretty low when I was there but be careful after heavy rain, the little streams and rivers you cross may become impassable.
Once you get to the Manganui River you follow the track up stream and end up at Curtis falls waterfall! This section of the walk is a little challenging as you are rock hopping between gaps in the river. The way back is exactly the same as how you got there. Be careful of your footing as it can get quite slippery.
I got lost. Well kind of.
So now you are wondering how I got lost of such an easy track. Well I didn’t read the directions fully before I headed out. Usually on a DOC managed walk the track is well signposted and easy to follow. When I got to the river that you need to follow upstream I couldn’t see any signs or the little orange triangles you are meant to follow. So I looked around and managed to find one on the other side of the river which went up the next steep valley. This was all fine, I was happy walking and was enjoying the peace and quiet of the bush. After a lot of up and down valleys I decided to look at the time.
It had been 2 hours, and I hadn’t arrived at the falls. I started to wonder where I was and if I had missed them entirely. The hike is advertised as taking 2-3 hours, so I should have been almost back at the car by now. Anyway I pressed on and kept looking for signs. The track started to get very over grown and slippery. I ended up slipping over several times, luckily I didn’t hurt myself. Anyway after 3 hours I ended up right by Maketawa hut! I then decided to head back the way I came and at the same time I checked my phone and the DOC website. I re read the instruction on the Curtis Falls track and worked out where I went wrong.
I managed to get back to the falls (after slipping a lot more) and got some pretty nice pictures. However a 2-3 hour hike ended up taking 5 hours. I definitely didn’t have enough food or water for this length of hike. So I guess it shows, you should always be prepared and pack a little extra. I was lucky that I was able to drink from the falls and I had a cereal bar hidden in my bag for emergencies.
The falls themselves are pretty cool. They weren’t particularly strong as it hadn’t rained properly in a while but they still made for some nice pictures.
Armed with my camera, tripod and ND filter I spent about 30minutes to an hour at the falls taking pictures and experimenting. It turned out to be a pretty nice hike even though it took longer than expected. Curtis Falls Finding different angles at Curtis Falls Behind the scenes at Curtis Falls
After a little break at the main falls I climbed up the left hand bank of the falls and decided to carry on along the riverbed. I’d come this far, I wanted to explore a little. I managed to find another waterfall another 10-15 minutes up the track. Which I actually found more impressive. I’m going to call this one Upper Curtis Falls as I’m not sure on the correct name. Upper Curtis Falls Experimenting at Upper Curtis Falls Happy that I finally found something to shoot!