Day 4 (Whakapapa – Stratford) of a 6-Day Itinerary of New Zealand’s North Island
Day 4: Rise early and head to the Whakapapa Ski fields. Give yourself at least a couple of hours (and I mean 2 hours: in NZ “couple” tends to refer to the traditional meaning of the word). If you are here to ski or snowboard, you will definitely need more time. In which case you might want to stay another night.
In winter and early spring, the ski fields can get very busy. While you can drive up to the parking area, you may be directed to park further away. In which case, there will be free shuttles to take you to the Whakapapa base area.Whether you are here to ski or snowboard, or simply be a day-tripper to take in the sights, there’s something for everyone here.
Our next destination is Stratford, in the heart of Egmont National Park. First, we will drive about 1.5 hours toward Laurens Lavender Farm on State Highway 43, which is also known as the Forgotten World Highway. In the middle of January, when the lavenders are in full bloom, Laurens Lavender Farm is really a sight to behold. Even when it is too early and the lavenders are not blooming, this is a wonderful place to stop for a coffee or a meal. You will certainly appreciate the serenity and beauty of this place – to recharge or unwind, however you call it, before pressing onto Stratford.
While there are a number of accommodation choices, try staying at the Stratford Mountain House. It is a good place to make it your base to explore Mt Egmont, or going by its Maori name, Mt Taranaki. Mt Taranaki can be shrouded in thick cloud on some days. But winds may just clouds away for a moment, giving you unimpeded views of the summit of the mountain, before the next mass of cloud completely covers it all over again. You can easily drive to the base of East Egmont from the Mountain House. If you prefer, there are also a number of shorter and longer walks near the hotel.