Like something out of a movie, Mount Taranaki juts out of the surrounding flat plains like a sore thumb. Standing alone, as though placed there on a whim, the perfect cone is too tempting not to climb.
- 360-degree panoramic view from the summit.
- Snowy peak.
- Hiking above the clouds
During the drive to the North Egmont Visitors Centre, where you are constantly winding your way towards the volcano, you catch glimpses of the peak in clearings through the trees. We drove there one evening and were welcomed with a spectacular sunset, turning a wisp of cloud at its peak into what looked like a lick of flame.
Eager for the hike in the morning we bedded down in our campervan, in the car park of the visitors centre (free). We awoke before sunrise and set off just as first light was on the peak of the volcano. Another stunning sight which was goading us to make it to the summit.
The track itself is pretty much straight up and straight back down again. None of this zigzagging crap which usually drives me crazy. My mindset soon changed as the track was ridiculously steep and absolutely killed my legs. No warm up, just up, pretty much right from the start. It didn’t take long until I was begging for even a single zig or zag to break the onslaught of the steep gradient.
After 1-2 hours of calf burn, thigh ache and a considerable amount of grumbling and muttering you reach Tahurangi Lodge where, just below, there is a public toilet (with one hell of a view).
From here it’s about 3-4 hours until you reach the summit of Mount Taranaki. The steep gradient does not change, but you go from steep path to steep steps. This then continues onto what is by far the worst part of the hike, the scree slope. “Two steps forwards, one step backwards” sounds like a walk in the park compared to this energy sucking, time consuming, mammoth of a task. Small steps, lots of breaks and a healthy supply of sweets – that’s my recommendation for this section. Also keep an eye out above you as well, as hikers ahead of you can dislodge rocks that might tumble down the slope.
The scree slope finally comes to an end (trust me it does eventually) and you are onto what they call The Lizard. Solid rock! The gratification of taking a step forwards, and actually moving one step’s worth of distance is a feeling I never thought I’d be so grateful for. The Lizard is a rocky ridge all the way up to the crater’s entrance. It is still very steep but much more pleasant than the scree slopes prior to it. From the top of The Lizard follow the poles for the short walk across the crater, which is snow covered year round, and up to the summit rock. Take a much-deserved rest up here before tackling the descent. You’ll need it!
- All weather clothing. Summer gear to icy snow blizzard attire. The weather is so changeable on Mount Taranaki and you never know what you’re going to get. It is also incredibly windy on the summit.
- Poles. Or even just a few big sticks. Not for the way up, but for the descent over the scree slope. They are a godsend when you’re sliding down it!
How To Get There
The hike starts out of the North Egmont Visitors Centre car park, in Egmont National Park, SW of the North Island of New Zealand.
- Leg workouts
Intermediate — Advanced
The peak is 2518m. Distance wise it doesn’t look too bad. 6.2km from the car park to the summit. It’s the 1.6km of elevation gain within that short distance that is the killer. 6 hours up, 3-4 down.
New Zealand is pretty epic. What else can you get up to?