Mount Tauhara Walk (Is This The Best Hike In Taupō?)

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Preface: I’ve done the Mount Tauhara walk a few times now, most recently with a group of friends in early 2023 where we made it to the tip just in time for sunset. It was a bluebird day, and we were treated to one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen. So if the weather is on your side, I’d highly recommend doing this for sunset!

One of my favorite walks near Taupō is Mount Tauhara. This 3.3 km each-way trail with 518m of elevation gain is recommended for intermediate hikers and should take 2-3 hours to complete. It’ll take you to the summit of a dormant volcano with panoramic views the Taupō caldera, and (if you’re lucky) you can see a snowcapped Ruapehu in the distance.

In this post, I’ll share my experience of the walk, along with epic pictures of what you can expect.

How to Get There From Taupō?

To get to the walk, take the SH5 Napier-Taupō Highway and turn right onto Mountain Road. Follow the road for about 4 km until you reach the farm gates. You can park your car on the side of the road. But make sure you don’t block the gate or the driveway. The track starts from the gate.

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Before You Go (Track Difficulty and Facilities)

– Mount Tauhara Hike Track Grade & Fitness

Though only a short walk, the track is steep and rough in places and requires a good level of fitness and stamina.

Its roughly twice the elevation of climbing mount Maunganui, and half that of Ruapehu, so that possibly gives you an indication of what you’re in for 🙂

It’s best suited for intermediate to advanced trekkers and if you’re an avid or experienced hiker, the walk will be a breeze. 

– Water and toilets

There are no toilets or water facilities on the track. The only water source you’ll have access to is the stream heading toward the top of the track (But you should probably purify the water before drinking) .

If you have to, make sure you empty your bladder before you get to the walk.

– Is Mount Tauhara Dog Friendly?

This is not a dog-friendly walk. Dogs can pose a risk to farm animals and native wildlife.

GUIDE: Mount Tauhara Walk

Although not an easy feat, the walk is worth the effort. The trail is steep, rough, and sometimes muddy if it’s been raining. I recommend you wear sturdy trail shoes or boots and pack warm clothes in case the weather turns for the worse.

Here’s a breakdown of the sections of the track to make it easier to navigate the route.

Setting Out: Carpark to the Water Tanks

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This part of the trail is the steepest and hardest. You’ll climb up a steep grassy slope and cross some stiles. The track is not well defined here, so always be on the lookout for markers and signs. 

Throught The Working Farm:
The first part of the track goes through a farm, where you might encounter some livestock. It’s flat and easy but it can be slippery after the rain. You need to respect the landowner’s property, follow the track, and avoid disturbing the animals. 

Beware: The Shooting Range
In the vicinity is a shooting range. This section is safe and well away from the firing line. You might hear gunfire at a far distance, but don’t be alarmed. Stay on course until you get to the point where the real climb begins.

Water Tanks to Summit

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After the water tanks, you’ll enter the forest. It’s a more pleasant and scenic section with much cooler temperatures. Do expect some level of steepness and rugged sections. Though not as tough as the previous part. 

Follow the tramped trail until you reach the summit. The summit has stunning views of Lake Taupō and the surrounding mountains. It’s a great place to take photos, have a snack, and rest for a while. You can also see the sacred peaks of Tongariro National Park. And on a clear day, you can see as far as Mount Taranaki in the west and the Kaimanawa Ranges in the east.

Sunrise or Sunset at the Summit

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One of the best ways to experience the walk is to watch the sunrise or the sunset at the summit. The views are spectacular. But you need to be prepared by familiarising yourself with the trail. You can hike during the day so you know your way to and from the mountain for when you visit in the nighttime. Whichever time you choose, bring a headlamp or flashlight, and some extra layers. 

The Descent

To go back to where you started, simply follow the same track that you came up with. Take breaks as needed because the descent can be hard on your knees. 

Terrain and Conditions

You can walk all year round, but the conditions vary from one season to the next. Here are some things to consider before you go.

Winter

If you don’t mind the extreme cold and would love to see snow on the summit and surrounding mountains, winter can be a beautiful time to do the walk. To make the experience bearable, simply layer. You also need to check the weather forecast to make sure the track isn’t closed due to heavy rain or snowstorms. Because the days are shorter, it’s best to start your hike early to combat poor visibility. 

Summer

Although hot, dry, and crowded, summer lets you enjoy the unfiltered views of the mountain. It’s my personal favorite time to visit. You’ll have to bring plenty of liters of water and gear up with summer essentials–sunscreen, hat, sunglasses. And bring an extra layer or two for those chilly summer days. If you can, I recommend avoiding the peak hours because the car park can be full. 

After Heavy Rain

The trail can get muddy, slippery, and flooded after severe rain, making it a more challenging hike. Even more so if you’re not wearing proper gear. If you’re hiking during the rainy season, wear waterproof shoes or boots and bring a raincoat. And check the track status before you go, to ensure the track is safe and unclosed.

Frequently Asked Questions

When did Mt Tauhara last erupt?

Mount Tauhara’s last eruption was around 65,000 years ago. It’s currently dormant so you don’t need to worry about any volcanic activity at the summit.

Can you take dogs up Mount Tauhara?

No, dogs are not allowed on the track. They can be harmed by track conditions or pose a risk to farm animals as well as native birdlife.

How high is Mount Tauhara?

Mount Tauhara reaches 1,088 meters (3,570 feet) above sea level. Making it one of the highest peaks in the Taupo region.

How long is the walk up Mt Tauhara?

The walk up Mount Tauhara is about 3.3 kilometers (2 miles) one way and is a there-and-back track meaning you’ll walk 6.6km in totla.. It takes about 2 to 3 hours return.

How hard is Mount Tauhara?

Mount Tauhara is relatively difficult. It’s suitable for intermediate to advanced hikers because it’s steep and rough and requires a good level of fitness and stamina. I don’t recommend it to beginners or people with health issues.

Final Recommendation: Mount Tauhara Walk

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The Mount Tauhara walk is an amazing track that takes you to the summit of a dormant volcano with panoramic views. It requires a good level of endurance and stamina, so I don’t recommend it if you’re a beginner or have health issues. It’s steep, rugged, and can get muddy–especially after heavy rainfall. Because it’s not well marked, it does require a lot of attention and navigation skills. 

Note that there are no facilities on site. This means you’ll need to carry enough water, relieve yourself before you get to the track, and bring rubbish bags to pack out your garbage. Most importantly, respect the landowner’s property, stay on the track, and avoid damaging the vegetation or disturbing the wildlife. Although both summer and winter have something different to offer, I enjoy the warmer months because I get to enjoy much clearer views of the surrounding areas. 

Also Published On: NZ Jane

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