Friday 10th May 2024 turned out to be the only truly clear day this month; and just in time as hiking beyond May is not recommend with weather on the mountain having claimed a number of lives in the past. In short we were blessed to have a glorious day that afforded us awesome views and safe conditions. The latter was particularly important as this was the first time we were hiking in these conditions and at this altitude.

Initially we planned to do the hike Saturday. Because of the danger of hiking in bad weather, we made sure to book accommodation that would allow for last minute cancelations. On Wednesday, after looking at the weather forecast, Jon decided that we needed to move things to Friday or else we would possibly miss the opportunity to do the hike this season. Thus, after making changes to our accommodation and work schedules we headed down to Taranaki Thursday afternoon, arriving at Egmont Eco Lodge at 8:45pm that evening. While very basic, the lodge was functional, affordable and the management very accommodating.

On the way in we an impressive array of at least 15 Starlink satellites. Be warned, there is basically only one petrol station (which we are not sure is open in the evening) in the shaded area below and hardly any place to get food after hours. In short this is not a road you would want to break down on or have not comfort food with you.

There were some interesting corners on the later stretch of road

After a Burger Fuel dinner, we checked in, got our gear ready and set our alarms for 2:20am the next morning. We needed to make an early start so that we could get to the summit before 10am which was the time time that the live cams seemed to indicate that the clouds moved in each day.

After a solid, but short sleep, we awoke, dressed, ate breakfast and headed off to Egmont National Park Visitor Centre, arriving at 3:15am. The hike is rated as an 8 to 10 hour hike but I am not the fastest taking just over 13 hours (including breaks).

12,8km, rising 1,777m to above 2,500m.

As there was no moon (a full moon would have made everything just perfect) it was pitch back and so using our headlamps and All Trails, we headed out from the visitor centre.

Besides food and water we had our walking poles, ice axe, crampons, helmet and various layers of clothing together with an emergency beacon. Much of this gear can be hired from places like Bivouac at reasonable rates. Besides this sort of hiking being a new experience for us, we also began to understand the dangers associated with such hikes as we dodged rock and ice falls that resulted from the thawing and freezing of ice throughout the day. We also found out how important it was to have thought about how to self-arrest should you slip on the ice or miss your step. A simple tumble on these slopes could see one careering down the mountain for hundreds of meters; and that would not end well.

When we reached the Mountain Hut, we took shelter from the wind in the entrance hall, where we put on our crampons and started heading up the icy steps.

As the sun rose we could see Mt Ruapehu and Tongariro in the distance.

Mt Taranaki is the second highest peak on the North Island (approximately 2,500m), with Mt Ruapehu being the highest (approximately 2,700m).


By the time I got to the crater I did not think I was going to make the summit (a thought that later proved correct). I was basically broken and out of gas but at the same time I was satisfied that I had given it my best shot and happy that I at least had arrive here.

Coming over the ridge and around into the crater

Crater video

After a motivational call from my boss (yes there was cell coverage and my phone rang) I decided to try an press on, climbing up the side of the crater. This proved to be too steep with the snow too soft and turned out to also be the incorrect route.

At this point I basically threw in the towel, only to see Jon coming back down the correct route and so I thought I may as well give it one more go. Limping around the side I was hit by high winds blowing snow across the surface of a steep slope. With only 50 to 100 meters to go I was too spent to complete the final haul. And so below is the highest point that I got to.

It was around midday and the clouds had not come in yet meaning that Jon's patience in staying with me had not cost him the chance to summit and experience first hand the breath-taking views from the top.


Summit video

After a break, and lunch in the crater, we headed back down the long, slow and (in my case) painful track.


A brief survival rest

We arrived back at our car around 5pm that evening and while I initially told Jon that I was never climbing another volcano in my life again, I think that I just might be up for giving Mt Ruapehu a go next year. But if I do, I am going to do much more steep terrain training; I need to remind my brain that I am no longer in my twenties 😄

In short it was an awesome day where we had the entire mountain to ourselves, in perfect weather.