Mountains: Taranaki, NZ

Posted by BMC on 07/03/2002
Photo: Alastair Lee.

Mt. Taranaki is one of a unique group of volcanic cones found bordering the pacific plate, geologically referred to as the ‘Ring of Fire’. This beautiful symmetrical cone has that classic appearance like Mt. Fuji (3776m) in Japan, Mt Slamet (3428m) in Java and the lesser known Klyuchevsk Volcano (4750m) in Siberia.

But what makes this popular peak so special? Although Mt Taranaki’s modest height doesn’t quite match the height of its Russian and Japanese relations, the breathtaking exposure and vertical scale make this mountain just as appealing. Surrounded by the sea on three sides, poking from New Zealand’s West Coast into the prevailing ‘Roaring Forties’ of the Southern Ocean, the summit of this mountain is an extraordinary place, it feels like the edge of the world.

There’s a visitor’s centre on the North Side of the mountain. From there an hour or so up ‘The Puffer’ gets you to the Tahurangi Lodge (a well-facilitated private alpine hut) and the Around the Mountain track. For the less ambitious hiker a few hours in the westerly direction from here will satisfy your needs. The path cuts through unique snowgrass and herbfields and hopefully gives impressive views over the surrounding pastoral lands. For the fitter and more experienced hiker the North Ridge Summit Track will be of interest. Although effectively this is nothing more than a steep hike, be warned, it's long, tiring, and at the mercy of very fickle conditions and is only marked by poles on the upper section. Every year poorly equipped tourists run into difficulties, so take the right kit and don’t become a statistic. In winter the upper slopes provide some great ice and winter climbing and on the south-east side there’s a touch of skiing.

In summer there’s lots of superb cragging on some of the hardest rock in the country. Lovely clean Andesite forms towers and long columnar cracks. At around 1500m the cragging retains a strong alpine feel too.

Taranaki
Climbers Guide to Taranaki, Ross Eden. (2nd ed. Due 2002)
Classic Walks of New Zealand, Craig Potton
1:50,000 Egmont Parkmap, Department of Conservation



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