Climb Mount Taranaki, seen in The Last Samurai (2003), in Egmont National Park

Geologically, Taranaki Maunga is New Zealand’s most perfectly formed volcano. It is around 120,000 years old and last erupted in 1775; volcanologists agree that the mountain is ‘dormant’ rather than extinct. To the tangata whenua (Māori people) of Taranaki, Taranaki Maunga is an ancient and sacred ancestor whereby the people of Taranaki descended. Often described as ‘New Zealand’s most climbed mountain’, Taranaki Maunga is an achievable summit challenge. Climbers and hikers do need to be aware of the changeable conditions and should come prepared with proper equipment.

Why might I recognise Mount Taranaki?

The volcano might look familiar to you as it was used as a filming location in the early 2000s blockbuster, ‘The Last Samurai’ starring Tom Cruise. Mount Taranaki was chosen for its uncanny resemblance to Mount Fuji in Japan. It’s surrounding hills also provided the perfect backdrop for the film’s climactic battle scene which involved 500 Japanese extras!

The snow-capped cone of Taranaki Maunga lures visitors who appreciate geological phenomena. Apart from one small bump – a subsidiary vent called Fantham’s Peak – the mountain’s cone is beautifully symmetrical. Climbing to the summit is achievable for experienced hikers in all seasons – although winter is more difficult and not recommended– and is best done with a guide. The best months to attempt the summit climb is January through to April.

  • Three sealed roads ascend the forested flanks of Taranaki Maunga
  • Summit climbers don’t need mountaineering experience, but they should be experienced and fit hikers.
  • The best time of the year to attempt the summit climb is January to April.
  • While the park has high rainfall, it also receives in excess of 2000 hours of sunshine a year.
  • Temperatures in the park can drop very rapidly and soft snow can turn into ice in a matter of minutes.
  • When attempting the summit climb, be prepared for all weather eventualities
  • The better prepared you are, the more you will enjoy it.

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