Mount Taranaki Summit Route: Alpine Tramping (Hiking) Series | New Zealand

Mount Taranaki Summit Route: Alpine Tramping (Hiking) Series | New Zealand

For generations the grandeur of Taranaki has enticed many people to attempt an ascent to the summit of this now dormant volcano. However the weather can change very fast and climbing the mountain is a serious undertaking that should not be underestimated The mountain holds numerous tramping tracks for adventurers of all fitness levels One of the most challenging tramps (hikes) in the national park takes you high above the clouds for a truly breathtaking Alpine view The Taranaki Summit Route climbs 6.3 kilometers up the northern ridge of Taranaki. This might appear to be a simple day walk but this is definitely NOT the case! This tramp (hike) is both technically and physically difficult and should only be attempted by experienced trampers with the proper equipment and in good weather conditions The best time of year to attempt the tramp is during the peak summer period of January through to April snow is present year-round but snow cover will be at its lowest during these summer months. The average daily summer temperature sits around 1-7 degrees (C) with temperatures at the summit being substantially colder when wind or cloud is present You can expect rain for over two 212 days of the year which frequently brings the mountain under cloud cover at all elevations. Mount Taranaki stands in isolation next to the ocean and weather conditions here can change extremely quickly. So, make sure you check the official National Park weather forecast at before you go. Remember, that you will be in an Alpine environment which means there’s a good chance you will experience heavy rain, strong winds, snow and freezing temperatures even in the height of summer You will need warm and waterproof clothing as well as a good pair of tramping (hiking) boots. There is no access to water on the climb so take enough to last the whole day. This will be a very long day so make sure you leave early in the morning to ensure you have enough daylight hours to complete the Tramp and pack a head-torch just in case. as with all walks and tramps in New Zealand make sure you ‘leave your intentions’ with a trusted contact and inform them when you’ve finished. You can find out more about ‘leaving your intentions’ at the
Mountain Safety Council website. The beginning of the track is at the
North Egmont car park. Start your day by heading into the DOC visitor centre to get information on the latest track and mountain conditions also take a moment to once again check for the day’s weather
forecast. If you arrive before the visitor centre opens, then take the time to read the signs and information boards at the start of the track as this is where any important messages will be posted. Also use this time to let your trusted contact know your exact intentions If you decide to attempt the summit the start of the track follows a dirt road that is fairly easy going and sheltered by the forest. As the road makes its way up the mountain the forest will eventually give way to tussock taking you all the way to Tahurangi Lodge. This is a good spot to have a rest as this as the only shelter on the tramp and a toilet can also be found 100 metres back down the track. This is also your first essential decision-making point, as the dirt road now gives way to an expert route which is far more difficult undefined and exposed. Assess how everyone has been doing so far The track gets much harder from here so if you’re unsure about your fitness we recommend adjusting your plans. This is a good spot to discuss a turnaround time to ensure you’ll have enough time to get up and back down the mountain safely Finally, check the weather higher up the mountain. If it’s wet, windy and you can’t see the summit or you have doubts about any of these points turn around and head back down. From the lodge you’ll head into a gully. This initially starts is a thin route with large boulders to step over however, the track quickly disappears and you’ll need to do a bit of rock scrambling Just follow the numbered orange poles to stay on the correct route. This gully doesn’t get much sun during the early morning, so these rocks can be icy and slippery for a good portion of the day. Use your hands to help you up and over the rocks. Be aware of where you place your feet to avoid lower leg injuries The upper section of the gully has a set of stairs to take you up and out onto the ridgeline. Exposure to the elements will greatly increase as you move up the stairs. Use the top of the stairs as another good decision-making point. Take the time to once again reassess your group’s fitness and confidence. The most physically demanding and exposed sections are still in front of you. Confirm that you are on track to reach the summit before your turnaround time. Finally, reassess the weather conditions and check the weather higher up the mountain. If you have doubts about any of these consider turning around. From here the route becomes even more difficult as you start to ascend a long and exposed scree slope. The scree is very unstable so every every step up feels like you have slid two steps down. Progress will be slow. and it’s both physically and mentally exhausting. You also need to be mindful of people above you sending scree down onto you. After 1-2 hours of climbing up the scree you’ll come to a noticeable change in terrain as the scree will give way to large steep rocks. The section is known as The Lizard. Signs will prompt you to use the start of the lizard as your final decision-making point Again, reassess everyone’s fitness and confidence the weather conditions, both here and further up the mountain, and make sure you are still on time to summit before your turnaround time. Although it may look like you’re near the top you still have 1.5 – 2 hours of climbing left. As you start up the lizard you’ll be climbing more than tramping so use your hands to help you get past these big rocks. Visibility can often be poor which makes the route difficult to see. Make sure you follow the numbered
orange poles to stay safely on route. Just before you reach the crater the track will narrow down and you’ll need to walk along a skinny ledge. This section is not for the faint-hearted As the large cliff above and below leaves you little room for error. So make sure you take your time! This ledge will lead you to the summit crater. The crater has snow in it year round which is a testament to the freezing temperatures up here even during summer. You will need to pass over the crater to reach the summit. Depending on the conditions, this can be difficult as the snow in the crater is often capped in ice. If ice is present, it’s not recommended to go any further if you don’t have crampons and an ice axe. However, during summer the snow can soften making crossing tricky but possible. Make sure to kick steps in to get the best grip and stability. There is one last small rock slope to climb which can be very slippery when covered and ice so take care as you approach the summit, especially in shaded areas. At the summit enjoy the beautiful view above the clouds. Be aware that there are some rules up here. Taranaki has exceptional traditional and spiritual significance to the Iwi of Taranaki, and is recognized as Taonga an ancestor. Therefore DOC and the Iwi of Taranaki, ask that you give respect to the mountain and do not stand directly on the summit stone. Do not litter or camp up here, and remember to abide by the ‘Leave No Trace’ principles. Reaching the summit is a great accomplishment but now you have to do it all again in reverse! The majority of injuries happen on the descent, so make sure you take
your time descending both the Lizard and the scree sections as you may be tired and mistakes can happen easily. The scree section is particularly difficult to navigate on the way down, and it’s hard to control your momentum. It’s best just to take it slow and use walking poles to keep your balance. A good pair of rigid tramping (hiking) boots will make the world of difference here compared to flexible running shoes. If you have planned your day well you should have plenty of time to descend. Taranaki offers a rewarding challenge for those with the necessary skills experience and equipment to reach the summit Remember that the best time to go is between January and April Just be aware that this is not a simple tramp and if conditions are poor be prepared to turn around at any point. The weather changes fast, and your trip will be dictated by the conditions on the day so make sure you check the official Taranaki National Park weather forecast at Also talk to the DOC staff at the North Egmont Visitor Centre to get the latest information on track conditions. Otherwise, enjoy the tramp! it’s not every day you get to climb a volcano! #MakeItHomeNZ

6 thoughts on “Mount Taranaki Summit Route: Alpine Tramping (Hiking) Series | New Zealand

  1. I loved and totally enjoyed hiking in New Zealand. I miss hiking sooo much. I think of it at least once a day. Will be back someday!

  2. What an amazing video. So informative and precise. Thanks for putting this together. This hike is out of my current fitness level and good to know the terrain so I could make an informed decision. I like your work MSC 🤗

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