For mountaineers and Crag (rock face) climbers of all levels, New Zealand is a strato-volcanic land that has given rise to amazing peaks. One such climbing experience is Mount Taranaki. From a distance, the Taranaki looks like Mt. Fuji in Japan, especially when snow covers its peaks.
Mount Taranaki is 2518 meter dormant volcano that is located at the base of Egmont National Park. The national park is situated close to the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand. It became New Zealand’s national park in the 1900s.
The mountain is said to be around 120,000 years old and it can be seen from space. Many people still refer to Mount Taranaki as Mount Egmont whose name was given to the mountain by the pirate Captain Cook.
Very interestingly, there has been an ongoing negotiation between the New Zealand government and the local Maori tribes. The Maori tribe wanted Mount Taranaki to keep its human-style spiritual status.
The government finally agreed to give Mount Taranaki the legal personality status of a person. In other words, no one is allowed to abuse or harm the mountain in any way. By harming Taranaki, you would be harming the tribe.
As you can see, parts of New Zealand are steeped in mystic lores. Mount Taranaki is no exception. The Māori legend says that the volcano was a supreme god who went into battle with a nearby mountain for a beautiful maiden. However, Mt. Taranaki lost the battle and was banished to where it now stands.
Taranaki’s face is to be hidden in the clouds that veil the tears he sheds for his lost love. Mountaineer’s today say that Taranaki’s hidden face in the clouds is an experienced climb you won’t forget and his tears are likely the moisture that is plentiful near its top and gives climbers a slippery experience.
Points of Interest
In all of its scenic beauty Mt. Taranaki gives climbers 7 points of interest:
- Hongis Valley
- Humphries Castle (Crag)
- Okahu Bluff (remote cliff)
- Organ Pipes Valley (cliffs)
- Possum Rock (cliff)
- Tahurangi Bluff (Crag)
When to Climb
January to April is the best time to take walks and climb the pathways to your destination because the mountain is clear and relatively warm. However, from May to December, Taranaki is covered with snow and ice and only experienced mountaineers should attempt its ascent. There are many climbing experiences on this dome-shaped mountain.
Mount Taranaki Features
There are over 200 miles of hiking trails. For example, as an adventurer, you may want to take the Enchanted Wainhgongoro Track Loop. To enter this amazing nature-trail domain, you must cross a lengthy cable netting style bridge.
No matter which route you take, small national park huts are sprinkled throughout the mountain which is a first-come-first-serve resting area. Before you strike out on your trek, check-in at the Department of Conservation (DOC) Visitor Centre for route conditions and weather conditions.
There are 3 route faces for varied level climbers to have the experience of their lives – North Face, South Face, and the East Face. Popularized by families and individuals who would like to hike for a couple of hours is the North Face.
The North face is an easy walk, but in good weather, you should still be careful because its surface is filled with volcanic scoria and lava rocks. The beauty of Mt. Taranaki comes from its waterfalls like the Dawson Falls and pools of water crevices like the Wilkies Pool.
On the lower ground of the North Face is where you can enjoy walking paths that lead you into these amazing sceneries, including rain forests, shrubbery fields, and sweet-scented exotic plants. However, as you traverse the higher levels of the North face, it will take you to the Summit. An ascent and descent trip to the summit takes between 6 to 8 hours, weather permitting.
The eastern side of Mt. Taranaki features great skiing slopes and a nice alpine walk through the Goblin Forest. At 850 meters and 15 kilometers is the Mountain House Motor Lodge. As you climb you will encounter many steep ridges and deep valleys. During the winter months, the pathways are covered with snow.
A southern hiking adventure along the South Face is a more gradient climb. This pathway introduces you to 400 wooden stairs at 1300 meters. At 1900 meters you enter a flat in appearance because there are deep crevasses. The crevasses descend into a crater rim and then you begin to climb toward the summit dome. The wind is constantly whistling and you are in a temporary cloud bank.
The Summit for mountaineers is the goal. But before you reach it, you will traverse massive boulders, steep sections, and ice craters.
To the Māori people, Mt. Taranaki is sacred, therefore, they ask that people not stand on the Summit, nor camp, litter, or use it as a toilet. The Māori believe that the Summit is the head of the mountain and everything below it is its bones.
The Summit’s view is what takes your breath away. You get an aerial view of the Peninsula and the Tasman Sea. You will look down at the national park and its boundaries. The farmland is visible with its many animals and tropical diversities. You can even see other volcanic mountains that are 100 miles away.
Who Should Climb?
If you are hiking within the warmer seasons, carry water, light water-resistant clothing, and boots. When hiking in the winter, carry your ice axe, crampons, gloves, warm waterproof boots, and clothing.
It also gets colder the higher you travel, and rainfall is more prevalent as are strong winds. Even on sunny, beautiful days, hikers of all experiences should be prepared for cold, wet, and windy conditions.
Yes, climbing Mount Taranaki, this dormant volcanic environment is a great scenic wonder if you are in good shape and you don’t mind if your weather suddenly changes as you ascend. Mount Taranaki’s lower-level routes are great for walking, running, and trekking through.
But if you choose to traverse higher ascents, there are pole markers all the way to the Summit. Remember that the trails to the Summit are very challenging going up and coming back down.
Yes we did it and it was one of the hardest thing I ever done but when you up on the top the view is really awarding!