Winter conditions on Mount Taranaki

Image: Tim Weston | ©

Introduction

From December to April, fit and well-equipped trampers can enjoy spectacular scenery from the summit of Mt Taranaki. From May to November, the mountain is covered in snow and ice - mountaineering experience and equipment is required.

Video

Track overview

6.3 km one way return via same track

Walking and tramping

Up 5-6 hr; down 3-4 hr Advanced: Tramping track
Expert: Route

Dog access

No dogs

About this track

Walking in May to November

You need special skills and preparation to climb Mt Taranaki from May to November. There are increased risks from snow, ice, avalanche terrain, bad weather and sub-zero temperatures.

Track standard: Route

Track surface: Track is covered in snow and very icy in sections. Track is not marked.

Suitable for: People with mountaineering skills, equipment and experience. You must:

  • have the equipment and skills to prevent a slide on icy terrain
  • know where avalanches are a risk and be able to rescue someone if an avalanche occurs
  • have the clothing for sub-zero temperatures and be able to survive if the weather gets worse.

 

Prepare for a long, challenging day

Daylight

Allow 9 hours to complete the climb. There are between 9 and 11 hours of daylight in winter, so leave early enough to complete the trip before it gets dark. Always take a head torch.

Be prepared to turn back if conditions are no longer safe or if your progress is too slow.

Dress for cold, windy and icy conditions

On a fine day, the summit of Mt Taranaki can be at least 20°C colder than New Plymouth and 10° colder than the start of the track – subtract another 2°C for every 10 km/h of wind: eg, when it’s 15°C (50°F) in New Plymouth, a fine day at the summit will be about -5°C.

Conditions can change quickly. Layer your clothes to trap warm air in and keep cold wind out. Start with a base layer of polypropylene/merino, add an insulation layer of fleece/wool and finish with a waterproof shell layer.

Expect ice on the track between April and November. A helmet, crampons and ice axe are essential, as is competency using them. The main cause of death on Mount Taranaki is slipping on ice.

Be avalanche alert

Avalanches are a hazard. Know the avalanche forecast. Take an avalanche transceiver, avalanche probe and snow shovel, and be competent using them.

Take these essentials

  • Plenty of drinking water and food.
  • Waterproof jacket and pants, hat, gloves, sunscreen, and warm, layered clothing
  • Sturdy tramping or mountaineering boots
  • Crampons, ice axe and helmet
  • Avalanche transceiver, avalanche probe and snow shovel
  • Mobile phone, personal locator beacon (PLB), head torch and spare batteries
  • Map, compass and/or GPS

Note, there is nowhere in Taranaki to hire alpine equipment - bring your own or hired alpine equipment.

Make a plan

Talk with someone at the Egmont National Park Visitor Centre who knows the current conditions.

Check the latest:

Know the route. 

Go with a guide

Know your limits. Have a memorable and safe experience with DOC-approved mountain guides.

taranaki-summit-climber-winter-565.jpg
Mt Taranaki in winter
Image: Tim Weston ©

taranaki-summit-winter-565.jpg
Mt Taranaki in winter
Image: Tim Weston © 

 

Walking in December to April

Rising above the clouds, the 2518 m summit of this dormant volcano is a challenging 1.6 km vertical climb to the peak.

For non mountaineers, the best time to climb the mountain is during January to April when the mountain is often clear of snow and ice, other than in the crater.

North Egmont (946 m) to Tahurangi Lodge (1,492 m)

Time: 1 hr 30 min - 2 hr
Distance: 4 km

From Taranaki / Egmont National Park Visitor Centre the Summit Track follows the boardwalk up to a locked gate. Cross the stile and continue up the gravel Translator Road (walking access only) to the privately owned Tahurangi Lodge. Sections of this track are very steep.

There is a public toilet 100 m below the lodge and a small day shelter room at the lodge.

Tahurangi Lodge to the summit (2,518 m)

Time: 3 - 4 hr
Distance: 2.3 km

The track passes in front of Tahurangi Lodge and continues upwards via the poled route through the rock-covered Hongi Valley. A series of steps leads out of the valley onto steep scoria (gravel) slopes. Be aware of rockfall through this area. 

Continue uphill to the Lizard (2134m), a prominent rocky ridge which leads you to the crater’s summer entrance. A narrow rocky ledge leads down into the crater. It has a steep drop-off and can be icy at any time year - extreme caution required.

The route then crosses the crater ice to the final short climb up to the summit rock. There is ice in the crater all year round - crampons and/or an ice axe may be required to cross the crater at any time.

Respect the mountain: Do not stand directly on the summit peak, and do not camp, cook, toilet or litter in the summit area. Mounga Taranaki is a mauri, or life force and a spiritual tupuna or ancestor for Taranaki Māori.

taranaki-summit-crater-565.jpg
Snow in the crater on Mt Taranaki

Getting there

The track starts in North Egmont. From New Plymouth, follow SH3 for 13 km to Egmont Village. Turn onto Egmont Road and follow this up the mountain to North Egmont.

Transport to the start of the track can be arranged through several local transport providers. Contact Taranaki / Egmont National Park Visitor Centre. No scheduled transport service exists.

Know before you go

  • This is a full day strenuous hike - allow plenty of time and leave early.
  • There is no water available on the track - take plenty with you.
  • Check the Egmont National Park weather forecast before you.
  • Be prepared to turn back if you are finding the climb too difficult or if the weather deteriorates - thick cloud can descend making navigation difficult.
  • The only toilet is 100 m below Tahurangi Lodge - use it when you go past.
  • Above Tahurangi Lodge, numbered marker poles lead to the summit and give you an indication of how far you have to go. It's also good information to give emergency services if you find yourself in trouble.
  • Read and follow advice from the yellow safety signs along the track.

taranaki-summit-565.jpg
Descending Mt Taranaki

Contacts

Egmont National Park Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 6 756 0990
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   egmontvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   2879 Egmont Rd
Egmont National Park
Postal Address:   PO Box 462
New Plymouth 4340
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