Surroundings, Egmont National Park
Curtis Falls (Dawson Falls)
Waymarked trails lead to two impressive waterfalls, the Curtis Falls and the Dawson Falls. At the Dawson Falls accommodation is available in Dawson Lodge. From here there are trails to Lake Dive and the Stratford mountain house.
North Egmont, New Zealand
25km south of New Plymouth is North Egmont (alt. 936m), with a visitor center for the national park. Attractive trails lead to the Holly Hut and Bell's Falls.
South of the little town of Oakura, a short distance inland, is Kori Pa, a fortified Maori settlement. Standing high above the river, it seems almost impregnable. However, it was abandoned in 1820 when the local Taranaki tribes fled before the Waikato tribes, who were armed with guns.
Puniho, New Zealand
At Puniho, 30km southwest of New Plymouth, is a rock that, according to the Maori legend, was brought here by the volcano Taranaki in his flight from the central plateau. To the Maoris the rock was sacred, and on certain ceremonies was draped in a chief's cloak. To touch the rock could be fatal: it is said that 70 enemy warriors who had carried it off all died that day, whereupon the rock returned by itself to its original position. The stone's magical powers declined at the coming of the European settlers, and it can now be touched without evil consequences.
Parihaka, New Zealand
3km higher up (starting from Pungarehu) is the village of Parihaka, established by the Maori leaders Te Whiti and Tohu. In 1866 the villagers began a campaign of passive resistance and civil disobedience against the government; in 1881 the two leaders were arrested and kept in prison, without trial, for almost 2 years, and their village was destroyed. The conflict between the Maoris and the whites was not settled until 1926, when the government agreed to pay compensation. The village is now a center of the Maori revival. Here too is Te Whiti's grave. Visitors to the village should respect the feelings of the Maoris.
Oaonui, New Zealand
50km southwest of New Plymouth is Oaonui, the supply base for the two offshore production platforms in the Maui natural gas field. The visitor center provides information about the extraction of natural gas from the continental shelf.
Manaia, New Zealand
90km south of New Plymouth is Manaia (pop. 1000), the commercial center of a farming district. It has a large memorial to those who fell in the land wars. On the golf course are two blockhouses built in 1880 to provide protection against attacks by Te Whiti.12km northeast of Manaia is the site of a battle between Maori warriors and British troops in 1868. The Maori leader Titiokowaru enticed the British force into an ambush and annihilated it.
Kapuni, New Zealand
North of Manaia, at Kapuni, are fields of natural gas that are now being worked. This industrial activity is evident in the flares burning off gas, pipelines and a fertilizer factory.
Stratford, New Zealand
The little market town of Stratford (pop. 6000), on the southeastern slopes of Taranaki, was founded in 1877 on an old Maori road. In its early days its economy centered on the processing of timber felled during the clearing of the forests. Stratford is now a popular starting point for walks and climbs on Taranaki (approach route via Pembroke to the Stratford mountain house). Stratford's power station (completed 1976) is fuelled by natural gas from the nearby Kapuni field.
From Stratford the Heritage Trail runs 155km northeast to Taumarunui. This winding route takes in some impressive natural features, such as the Mount Dampier Falls and the Tangarakau Gorge.
8km northeast of Inglewood, in a densely forested area, is the fortified Maori village of Pukerangiora Pa.
Waitara, New Zealand
16km northeast of New Plymouth is Waitara (pop. 6000), where the land wars began in 1860. The main cause of the wars was the land hunger of the settlers, who, squeezed between the volcano and the sea, looked to the Maoris' farming land. The local tribe, the Te Ati Awa, had fled south in the 1820s before the better-equipped Waikato tribes. They gave up land in the Wellington area to the settlers so that they could return to their tribal territory around 1848. But the settlers wanted this land too. Thereupon the Maoris united in opposition to a renegade Maori leader who had gone over to the settlers' side. Government troops then intervened in order to secure the land for the whites.
The fortified Maori village of Manukorihi Pa has a meeting house with magnificent carving. It was built in 1936 in honor of the influential Maori politician Maui Wiremu Pomare.