Walk on the wild side by climbing the scoria-strewn slopes of a dormant volcano, which is ‘The Most Climbed Mountain in New Zealand’.
Egmont National Park, on the western coast of the North Island, is dominated by a perfectly shaped volcanic cone known as both Mt Egmont and Mt Taranaki. This peak has a symmetry and profile that resembles Japan’s Mt Fuji.
Mt Egmont’s 2,518 metre summit is more accessible than any mountain of comparable height in New Zealand. Three sealed roads ascend the densely forested flanks, bringing the mountain facilities within a 30 minute drive of New Plymouth or Stratford. The Egmont Road leads to North Egmont visitor centre, where there is backpacker accommodation and several local bushwalks. The Pembroke Road leads to Stratford Plateau, Manganui ski field and a tourist lodge. The Manaia Road leads to Dawson Falls on the southern slopes, where there is a visitor centre, two lodges and superb local bushwalks.
Tramping on the mountain is a pure delight with 300 kms of tracks available. The main climbing route to the summit starts at North Egmont, and you need to allow 6 to 8 hours for the return trip. The ‘Round the Mountain Track’ is 55 km and takes 3 to 5 days to complete. You can start and finish at any park entrance and there are comfortable huts en route. Another round trip takes in the old eroded volcanoes of Kaitake and Pouakai, which once stood higher than Egmont. Views from the elevated tramping tracks extend to the Whanganui River Valley and Tongariro National Park.
Family walks from the visitor centres are a ‘must see’ attraction because of their unique enchanted forests. High rainfall of around 7 metres a year, combined with regular frost conditions, produce fascinating gnarled and twisted moss-covered trees straight out of a fairytale goblin scene.
Take time out to tread the leafy paths of Egmont National Park and admire its dramatic waterfalls, weird forests and castle rock formations.