Around the Mountain Circut (AMC), Mt Taranaki

Having tramped around Ruapehu I thought it would be good to get the double and do Taranaki as well.

Mt Taranaki aka Mt Egmont

Mt Taranaki aka Mt Egmont

I started from the North Egmont visitors centre and went anticlockwise, which seems to be the most popular option.  Conditions were quite wet when I started but having driven all the way from Auckland I was not about to drive back!  The first section gains 400m straight up a ridge, but the track is well cut.  Once you reach 1300m it evens out and contours around the hill, crossing several slips.

 

I'm sure there would be a good view in fine weather

I'm sure there would be a good view in fine weather

Then it drops down to the hut on boardwalk steps.  This section took me 3 hours.

Holly Hut is also on the Pouakai Range circuit and so can be quite busy.  However only I was mad enough to be out in the rain so I had it to myself.  All the huts on the circuit are serviced so it had a good supply of firewood and coal, AND solar lighting!

 

Holly Hut

The next day was just as wet.  The track follows Stony River and crosses several stream branches.  These are all quite large and were running up to calf deep (or knee deep if you steeped in the wrong place).  The track is reasonably well marked with snow poles and cairns.  If in doubt look for tracks in the sand.  Some parts of the track on the river sand had washed away so there were a couple of places where I had to jump down about 1m.  The scenery was quite epic in the mist but I’m sure it would be as good in the sun.

The rest of the track is in the bush, unless you take the high route to Kahui Hut.  Some people complain about the mud on Kapoaiaia track but it is NOTHING!  Only a few puddles!  Oaonui track has boardwalk and corduroy logs so it has hardly any mud at all.  If you have an old map it will show a swing bridge just before Waiaua Gorge hut.  This has collapsed so the track is now re-routed up the stream bed about 1km.

It’s extremely well marked and had 7 track markers at one point (in case you were doing the Sudoku while tramping and were distracted??).  It took me 7 hours to make it to the hut.

 

Waiaua Gorge Hut

The next morning I finally had some fine weather so I took the high track (Brames Falls).  This does involve climbing 1000m but does have a good view.

 

This is only half way up!

It crosses several streams so there are at least 5 points where you have to climb down 20m gorges and back up again.

However the alpine terrain is worth it after being in the bush.

There is the option of going up to Syme hut if you want to climb another 400m on scree, but it’s unmarked.  The track to Lake Dive hut drops straight down on 2km of eroded stairs.

I took me 5 1/2 hours to walk to Lake Dive (not including breaks).  If I did the track again I would probably push on to Waingongoro since I arrived at the hut quite early, and you can continue on the high track to Dawson Falls so it would take less than 2 hours to reach the next hut.

Lake Dive

This hut seems to be popular with people walking in for an overnight trip from Dawson Falls.  However I only had 3 others who were walking the circuit in the other direction.

The next day I took Lower Lake Dive track to Dawson Falls, since I didn’t want to go all the way back up the stairs!  This track is quite undulating and surprisingly overgrown with knee-high grasses and such.  It took me 2 hours to walk to the Dawson Falls road end.  The falls themselves are about 800m down the road and are NOT WORTH IT.  It’s only 16m high!  With more water they might be more impressive but I felt ripped off.

 

Rip-off falls

If you want a luxury night there is a lodge available here, with attached restaurant.  I had planned on having an icecream but the tearooms were shut so I pressed on!.  The track out of Dawson Falls is wheelchair grade for about 1 km before transforming in to DOC’s favourite – knee-high stairs.  However the view is good.

From here it climbs on quite a good grade to the ski field.  Since there was no snow I had the luxury public shelter to myself.

 

View down from the shelter. The track crosses the main car park on the plateau.

From here the track is excellently graded uphill to Tahurangi Lodge.  This section seemed quite busy with daywalkers.

 

New Plymouth is to the left. North Egmont is the clearing near the bottom of the ridge.

Then the track goes straight down THE PUFFER!

 

It's a concrete road straight down the ridge

This is just 45 min going straight down passing all the very puffed people going straight up.  It took me 7 hours to walk from Lake Dive to North Egmont.

In summary, this is a good walk, especially if you like a bit of alpine terrain and don’t mind climbing.  It’s shorter than going around Ruapehu, but has enough huts that you could spread it out if you didn’t want to do long days.

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2 thoughts on “Around the Mountain Circut (AMC), Mt Taranaki

  1. Mate awesome stuff. Taranaki is truly a magnificent mountain. I’m planning to run the AMC circuit next sunday should be a good smash. Hoping that we’ll be good round the high tracks but we’ll have crampons. What season did you do this trip?

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