Mount Taranaki, or Mount Egmont as it’s known, is a dormant volcano standing at 2751m on the west cost of the North Island of New Zealand. The instantly recognisable conical shape has been compared to that of Mount Fuji, and when the summit is covered in snow, it’s the spitting image.
It’s the second highest peak on the North Island, and after failing to summit Mount ‘Doom’ we decided to bag Taranaki instead.
At the southern tip of the surf coast of the North island, Egmont National Park is pretty secluded. So, having made the journey to the nearest town and stocking up on supplies for the night, we drove to the visitors centre at the foot of the mountain where we parked the van and spent the night.
To say the visitors centre was at the foot of the mountain would be a slight over exaggeration – it’s actually at 800m above sea level, and thanks to the seclusion of the area and the increased elevation, the stars on show that night were like nothing I’ve ever seen. The Milky Way was on full display in staggering detail. It’s times like that I regretted not carrying my DSLR with me!
Waking the following morning before sunrise, the temperature had plummeted freezing our water and making getting out of bed near impossible. Finally, after much deliberation I braved the cold and left the comfort of my bed. With coffee on the boil, I peered out of the van, only to be met by the sun rising above a blanket of cloud inversion below us.
Starting the climb above the clouds, we followed the well marked path at a steady gradient until we met the DOC hut. From here on, the climb becomes gradually steeper, climbing wooden steps that have been built in to the mountain.
The white blanket of cloud stretched as far as the eyes could see, interrupted only by the peak of Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe in the distance. Ahead, the path becomes less obvious, marked only by red way markers that are easy to lose. The loose shale underfoot makes progress slow and heavy going, but the view behind makes it all worth it.
The black volcanic rock and barren landscape was reminiscent of another world
Reaching the summit of Mount Taranaki, the deep, vacent crater which would have once been bubbling with lava lay dormant. In fact, snow and ice filled the crater. A small scramble to the true summit afforded undisturbed views, and the perfect spot for lunch.