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Tauhara, Taupō

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January 2021 Issue

Topping out in Taupō

Just to the north-east of Lake Taupō and little more than a 10-minute drive from the town itself lies Tauhara, a 1088m dormant lava dome that rises high above the surrounding area.

This impressive maunga has caught my eye many times on trips through Taupō and I recently discovered it was possible to explore the peak on foot.
At the car park, there is a large information panel giving a warm welcome to Tauhara Maunga along with mention of the cultural and spiritual significance it holds for Māori. It also reminds walkers that the first section of trail crosses private land with livestock and machinery having right of way.

After a couple of fence stiles, the path follows bright yellow markers up a steepish grazing hill to the treeline. Then, it becomes a well-defined track that climbs under a canopy of green, with intermittent openings through the bush offering rewarding views to pastoral farmland and beyond to Lake Taupō and township.

The track is well maintained and easy to follow with a fairly steady ascent right to the summit. At times, hands are required to grasp a well-rooted tree trunk to haul up a steeper section or to steady oneself when coming down. 
After about 45 minutes, there’s a more mature section of the forest full of large and gnarled trees hanging with thick spongy moss and bright green lichen. Around this point, the track verges a small babbling creek for a few minutes before veering into the forest again.

The thick bush gives way suddenly to a clearing and the summit trig station where walkers can enjoy a near 360-degree view over Taupō, up the wide valley corridor towards Rotorua and across the central North Island, dotted with patchworks of green farmland, country roads and lush forests.

Heading south along a well-worn track for 100m there’s a collection of large picturesque boulders perched along the ridgeline. Here, the view is even better than at the trig; an ideal spot for photographs.

Tauhara is a beautiful short walk which is easily reached from Taupō and can be accomplished by anyone with a moderate level of fitness. A second outing to the summit to witness the sunrise or sunset from this stunning spot is now on my bucket list.

Total Ascent
Easy / Moderate
2.5-3hr return
From Mountain Road, off SH5 east of the junction with SH1 near Taupō

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