I wanted to post about my recent hike up Mount Taranaki, my first mountain climb!
My boyfriend grew up in Taranaki (situated in North Island, New Zealand) and has climbed the mountain once before a few years ago and since meeting him I’ve always been wanting to return to his hometown and climb the mountain with him.
It turns out climbing Mt Taranaki is extremely weather dependent. If the weather isn’t close to perfect it can be a wasted trip as the views are spoilt by cloud cover, however, we are leaving the country soon so we grabbed the chance to climb the mountain while we could!
We were visiting family and friends in Stratford, Taranaki over a long weekend and we had a 3 day window to attempt the climb, after researching the weather forecast we chose a day, crossed our fingers for good weather and set an alarm for 5.45am on a Sunday morning, ouch.
We rallied a handful of friends to accompany us on the climb and arranged a meeting point for 7am, we awoke to darkness and watched the sun rise as we made the short drive to the mountain, it seemed that the weather was going to be in our favour thankfully.
The first 1-2 hours of the trip was easy enough following the paths up the grassy mountainside, however, the recent rain had made it a muddy mess so our feet were drenched very early into the climb. Next time I’ll be packing a spare pair of socks!
3 hours in and the climb started to get difficult, we ascended rocks and steps which later led to an extremely steep gravel slope where the phase, ‘one step forward, two steps back,’ became very relevant.
By now my legs were starting to really, really ache, I was pretty much using my hands and feet to heave myself up over the rocks as we got closer to the summit. The last hour was challenging to say the least and the clouds had appeared around us obscuring the view but it didn’t defeat our feeling of satisfaction when reaching the top! It was fantastic being at the summit, getting to finally sit down and rest for more than 10 minutes and having a well deserved lunch break.
Naively, I thought descending the mountain would be easier than the ascent. I was wrong.
I fell over more than once and my knees were in agony, by now I just wanted to be off that mountain. The weather turned sour and I couldn’t see more than two feet infront of me which made things so much harder. Eventually it took us just over 4 hours to get down, after the 4 hour climb upwards that was definitely one of the hardest but most rewarding 8 hour workouts I’ve ever done.
Enjoying a spot of lunch 2,518m up!