Wilkies Pools are a series of natural hollows excavated in a 20,000 year old lava bed by the Kapuni Stream. The water has worn smooth the stream bed and created a series of small water slides between the clear pools. If you’re game for a dip, you’ll realise quick - the stream is fed by mountain meltwater.
The Dawson Falls Visitor Centre is signposted from Stratford along Celia Street, 500 metres south of the clock tower. This merges with Opunake Road and after 13.5 km Dawson Falls are signposted on the right. The national park boundary is 3 km from the junction, 5.8 km from the carpark by the visitor centre.
The start of the track is signposted from above the Dawson Falls Visitor Centre. Continue 10 minutes along the Ridge Loop Track to the start of the track proper on the left.
After meeting the return of the Konini Dell Loop Track, the track crosses Kapuni Stream to a signposted detour to the left. This immediately accesses the series of clear pools with smooth water slides tumbling between them. Climb the rocky margins upstream to the sign which explains the various ash and tephra deposits on the opposite bank.
The return passes the intake weir for the Dawson Falls road end services, some small waterfalls and babbling brooks, before rejoining the Kapuni Loop Track to Dawson Falls.
The intake weir is an ingenious blend of old and new technologies, with the original valve wheel still in place.
Wilkies Pools are named after W and F Wilkie, brothers who farmed near Manaia Road. Having discovered the falls, Thomas Dawson billeted the following night with the Wilkie Brothers, who the next day joined him to view the falls. On exploring further, they came to the smaller pools and Dawson chipped the name ‘Wilkie’ onto one of the nearby rocks with his prospecting hammer.
North Island ▷ Taranaki ▷ Stratford
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Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍