Mount Taranaki (or Mount Egmont as it is also known) is a fantastic place to visit for a short day trip through to multi-day hikes. Mountain conditions can be dangerous and often change quickly, so always take care, plan ahead and if need be be prepared to postpone your trip until conditions are better.
There are multiple hikes with varying lengths and difficulties. Go to the DoC website to find out more. other features include Dawsons falls, Wilkies Pool, various huts and two visitors centres, one at North Egmont and one at Dawsons Falls.
The natural environment
The mountain is the source of more than 50 rivers and streams, and is a botanically unique area containing a wide variety of vegetation from sub-tropical semi-coastal forests in the Kaitake Ranges through to sub-alpine herb fields at 1,800m on the main cone.
Many bird species can also be found in the forests surrounding the mountain.
View a live image of Mount Taranaki (taken from Inglewood) on the Taranaki Vista website.
Mount Taranaki (2,518m) and Fanthams Peak (1,692m) comprise the volcano, which is the youngest of four Taranaki volcanic centres.
Paritutu and Sugar Loaf Islands/Nga Motu are a spine of lava pushed up from a volcano and have been dated to 1.75 million years.
The Kaitake Range was the next volcano to form and volcanic activity began 500,000 years ago.
The Pouakai Range volcanic activity began about 250,000 years ago, and 120,000 years ago the Taranaki volcano was formed and is where nearly all volcanic activity in Taranaki has occurred since.
The last evidence of volcanic activity on the mountain occurred around 1755, more than 250 years ago.
To ensure adequate and early warning of any volcanic activity, the Taranaki Civil Defence Emergency Management Group has installed the Taranaki Volcano Seismic Network: A group of five seismometers designed to gather accurate information about earthquake activity. From this information it can be determined if it is a volcanic earthquake.
The seismometers have been installed at five sites at various altitudes. This monitoring may provide weeks or even months of warning that something is starting to happen under the mountain.
One version of Maori history recalls how Te Maunga o Taranaki (Mount Taranaki) once lived in the centre of New Zealand's North Island with other mountain gods: Tongariro, Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe. Nearby stood the lovely maid Pihanga with her cloak of deep green bush, and all the mountain gods were in love with her.
What had been a long, peaceful existence for the mountain gods was disturbed when Taranaki could no longer keep his feelings in control and dared to make advances to Pihanga. A mighty conflict between Tongariro and Taranaki ensued, which shook the foundations of the earth. The mountains belched forth their anger and darkness clouded the sky.
When peace finally came to the land, Tongariro, considerably lowered in height, stood close by Pihanga's side. Taranaki, wild with grief and anger, tore himself from his roots with a mighty wrench and left his homeland.
Weeping, he plunged recklessly towards the setting sun, gouging out the Whanganui River as he went and, upon reaching the ocean, turned north. While he slumbered overnight, the Pouakai Range thrust out a spur and trapped Taranaki in the place he now rests.
According to some versions of Maori history, one day Taranaki will return to Pihanga and so it is unwise to live along the path between the two mountains.
When covered with a veil of mist and rain, Taranaki is said to be weeping for his lost Pihanga. But for now the mountain stands amid its own cloak of deep green bush, a majestic icon for the region. Already well known for its unpredictability, Mount Taranaki may some day provide a spectacular challenge.
Mt Taranaki can be a dangerous place for climbers. Weather conditions can deteriorate very quickly and many ill-prepared climbers have met their death on the slopes of the mountain.
If you are going to be using the track system in Egmont National Park for overnight trips, make sure you are properly equipped and well prepared.
Make sure your group has a capable leader and that everyone is carrying a sleeping bag, cooking utensils, sufficient high energy food (with some extra for emergencies), a waterproof raincoat and overtrousers, gloves, a hat, and several layers of warm (wool or fleece) clothing.
For mountain climbing, specialist equipment is essential.
Please check any of the Department of Conservation offices for up-to-date information on appropriate equipment, and weather and track conditions. Fill in an intention form at the office and remember to let them know when you have completed your trip.
Summer traffic management
For the safety of all visitors to the North Egmont Visitor Centre and surrounding walks, and to protect our alpine environment, NPDC will manage the influx of traffic to the visitor centre’s car park.
From 7am to mid-afternoon, once the car park is full, a traffic control officer at the Egmont National Park boundary will allow a vehicle to enter the park only when a vehicle leaves it. The dates of the traffic management are:
- Every day from Saturday 28 December to mid-January.
- Weekends and public holidays from mid-January to early March.
There will be no traffic management on low-demand days, e.g. when it is raining. Hired shuttle buses will have unrestricted access (drop-offs and pick-ups only – no parking).
For information on the variety of alpine, forest and lake walks around the district, please contact the New Plymouth i-SITE Visitor Centre on 06-759 0897 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit them in the Puke Ariki Museum.