Monday, February 13, 2012

Mt Taranaki trip

Our weekend adventures continued with some tramping on and around Mt Taranaki over Waitangi Weekend. The plan was to go to the summit via an alternative route which would involve a bit of rock-climbing. The route itself is not well known and the description we'd found for it was a little hazy in its directions. Nevertheless the trip was on. The photo below is what the mountain looks like. On a nice day.

We drove up from Wellington on the Friday night and slept in the porch area of the North Egmont Visitor Centre. Not a bad night's sleep although groups arriving in the early morning triggering the light resulted in a bit of a broken night. Day dawned and it was grey, soggy and quite miserable. Our early start was cancelled in favour of snoozing till just before 8 - that's when the visitor centre opens for business so we needed to be up and packed away by then. The decision was made to defer our day until after breakfast so we headed into Inglewood for a feed at Macfarlanes Cafe. After a leisurely meal the weather was no better so we decided to do a bit of a tramp that would take us to the area where the rock climbing route started. This would give us the opportunity to scope out where the route started and remove some of the uncertainty we would face when we would take that route the following day.

So it was back to the visitors centre and off along Veronica Loop. Partway along this track we deviated onto Ram Track, then onto Kaiauai Track, then onto Kokowai Track and finally onto Holly Hut Track. The weather stayed drizzly and grey so there was no view during this walk. We are pretty sure we located the start of the rock climbing route to the summit so made a few notes about that in preparation for the following day.

That night we stayed at a nearby deer farm in a converted barn. Certainly more comfortable than the concrete floor at the visitor centre. After an enjoyable meal and a glass or two of wine we checked the forecast for the following day and settled down for the night. Sadly we woke to conditions that seemed exactly the same as the day before. We had our breakfast then settled down to read for a while before heading back into Inglewood for an early lunch.
With the conditions being what they were the rock climbing route was ruled out. Wet rock and limited visibility would not have made for a fun day. Instead we took the normal route to the summit from the North Egmont Visitor Centre. The DOC estimates for this walk were 8-10 hours. We settled on a target of 5 hours to reach the summit and off we went. Three hours later we were standing on the top. In the murk. No view. Freezing cold.

There were at least another 100 people who made the trip to the summit that day. A lot of them were overseas tourists so I can imagine they were more disappointed than we were with the weather on the day. After a leisurely lunch we headed back down, back to the deer farm and a hearty meal and the inevitable bottle or two of wine.

The following day we packed up and headed for home. Of course we looked back towards Mt Taranaki as we drove away, just as the cloud lifted to a wonderful sight of the mountain in all its glory. Now we need to find a free weekend to come back and climb the intended route. In good weather, of course.

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