Hiking up Mt Tauhara was a beautiful mistake. See that mountain across the lake in the photo above? That is the mountain we should have hiked. Mt Tongariro’s Tongariro Crossing is an absolute New Zealand must-do. But because we were mislead by our Kiwi Experience bus driver that we had to pay $160 to do the crossing, we climbed another mountain. Walking up Mt Tauhara is quite an adventurous walk that I will never forget.
An 11 minute drive out of Taupo down the State Highway 5 takes you to Mountain Road, which leads to the start of the Mt Tauhara walk. Get to the walk by car, bike or taxi. Another mistake I made that day was walking from town to the base of the walk. This was a long and boring trek next to the road, which lasted a good hour and a half.
A rarity is that this walk is not part of the Department of Conservation, so do not expect the same maintained walking tracks that DoC walks tend to have. That said, the lack of maintenance on the trail created a variety of terrain, which has you scrambling over tree roots, over rogue rocks, along a stream, and along tracks with close proximity to sheer drops… all of this makes the trail challenging but rather exciting.
If you feel like you are going to die on the way up the mountain, just remember that coming back down is so much more fun. I practically ran while jumping over the obstacles on the way down.
Before all that fun stuff, you get to see Taupo, Lake Taupo – the largest lake in New Zealand, and Mt Tongariro a.k.a Mt Doom, from the summit of Mt Tauhara.
Watching the sunset as we finally emerged back at the base of the mountain gave us more beauty to behold!*
Be prepared for a scramble, to be short of breath, and to be wowed by the scenery once you get to the summit. The view is extra special because the trees are so dense on the way up the mountain that the view is kept a secret until the finale. Ok, so it wasn’t the Tongariro Crossing, nevertheless, the Mt Tauhara walk is the top day walk I have done in New Zealand so far!
*I apologise for all my cringey phrases but I am quite the cringey person.