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October 2021 Issue

These five cones make great tramping destinations.

Cone is an apt description of many hills, mountains and islands, so it’s hardly surprising that New Zealand has more than 50 features bearing this name.

Northland has a Cone Island and Cone Rock, Canterbury has several hillocks named Cone, Fiordland has Cone Peak in the Cameron Mountains, Solitary Cone above Doubtful Sound/Patea, Black Cone in the Murchison Mountains, and Bare Cone above Hāwea/Bligh Sound. Bush Cone and Catlins Cone both feature in the Catlins area, while Harbour Cone is a prominent feature on the Otago Peninsula. Treble Cone is the name of the popular ski field near Wānaka. The Marlborough Sounds also features some cones, and there’s a Dillons Cone high above the Clarence River.

Of more interest to trampers and mountaineers, however, are these five, all well worth visiting. 

The Cone, Pirongia Forest Park

Pāhautea Hut is the first public hut reached by Te Araroa trampers heading southbound and probably it’s this welcome refuge that is first to capture attention as the summit of Pirongia Mountain is climbed. 

The astute, however, will have noticed a conical bush-clad summit rising beyond the hut, known simply as The Cone. 

At 953m, it’s the second-highest summit in the park after Pirongia Mountain. 

Sharp Cone, Kaimanawa Forest Park

The Umukarikari Range offers excellent tops travel in the western edge of Kaimanawa Forest Park, beginning from the Kaimanawa Road car park. It’s the most commonly used track into Waipakihi Hut and crosses a few minor summits en route with Sharp Cone (1411m) being the first and most distinctive. Allow 6-8hr each way to the 12-bunk hut. 

Cone Hut, Tararua Forest Park

Many trampers have a soft spot for  the rustic Cone Hut, built by the Tararua Tramping Club in 1946 and clad with hand-adzed timber. The hut takes its name from the peak above, known as Cone (1080m), the highest point of Cone Ridge which separates the Tauherenikau and Waiohine Rivers. 

A pleasant two-three day circuit begins at the Waiohine Gorge Road end and climbs steeply to the ridge before descending to Cone Hut. 

A track climbs to Cone Saddle, and beyond to Cone itself, poking just above the bushline. From here, a track follows Cone Ridge to Tōtara Flats Hut, passing through some wonderfully stunted silver beech forest en route. The circuit can be completed by using  the Lower Waiohine Track. 

Single and Double Cone, The Remarkables

The highest peaks of Queenstown’s The Remarkables mountains are a series of conical summits. Somewhat confusingly, the summit area is marked on the map just as Double Cone, when in reality the highest peak (2319m) is known by the mountain-eering community as Single Cone and the twin peaks seen so prominently from the summit as Double Cone (2307m). These peaks are accessible from The Remarkables Ski Field, using the track that climbs past Lake Alta to the saddle at the head of Wye Creek. Trampers can safely negotiate that far, but beyond will require suitable mountaineering skills and experience. Needless to say, the summit offers superb views of Lake Wakatipu and the Southern Alps. 

Bald Cone, Rakiura National Park

Although the lowest of the Cones featured here, Bald Cone (230m) has a presence that belies its modest height. This granite dome is one of several prominent peaks that rise above the stunted shrublands of the Port Pegasus area in the remote southern part of Rakiura. It’s most often accessed from the South Pegasus Hunters Hut.