The forrest is quiet, the only sound the wind weaving it’s fingers through the branches, slightly swaying the tree tops in its way. I’ve never seen water so clear, fields so green and waterfalls so serene. The trees look enchanted, like something straight out of a fairytale. When we finally reach the rock pools we dip in our feet and shriek because the water is so icy cold. We didn’t bring swimmers and we don’t care. So we take off our clothes and jump in bravely, only to come back out seconds later, shaking and laughing.
After having breakfast at one of the picnic tables of the Ohawe Beach Camp and a quick stroll on the beach, we headed towards the base of Mount Taranaki. Whether or not you’re going to be able to see the mountain really depends on the weather conditions, and seeing as the coast is so close they can change rather quickly. We were in luck the day before and had clear sight, but when we arrived at the base the mountain was nowhere to be seen.
We took off towards the Goblin Forrest to go on the Wilkies Pools Track. If you’re in the area, do not skip this one, it is one of the most beautiful walks we went on during the trip. The Goblin Forrest is more or less like the Fangorn Forrest out of Lord of the Rings, with scary, ancient looking trees covered in moss. We passed crystal clear streams and thundering waterfalls. After about half an hour we reached the rock pools, which have been etched out over 20,000 years of volcanic activity and erosion and filled with icy blue water – which we stupidly went skinny dipping in.
After arriving back at the car we realized we had left the lights on and our battery was dead. Thankfully we found some lovely German guys who helped us out and gave us a jump start!
We then made our way back up north, stopping at the Parininihi Marine Reserve to look at the spectacular Whitecliffs and the endless, absolutely empty beach. The last stop of the day was at the Three Sisters at Tongaporutu Beach, which is a must-see. We arrived just after sunset and enjoyed a beautiful view of the three impressive rock stacks, with Mount Taranaki visible in the distance. If you are traveling with a camper van, you can stay overnight at the Three Sisters carpark, which is technically illegal (freedom camping), but tolerated by local authorities during the off season (and totally free). We were glad to learn this after asking a few of the other campers there, since we originally planned to keep driving another hour or so, but where both tired and hungry. So we quickly cooked our dinner in the fading light, then jumped into our sleeping bags and drifted off into a deep and dreamless slumber. (Westworld, anyone?)