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Taking On Taupō’s Mount Tauhara Hike

  • 2 minutes
Written by Tristan Balme

Mount Tauhara offers a one-of-a-kind experience for those seeking a little adventure and spectacular views near Taupō. This 3.3 km each way trail with 518m of elevation gain is recommended for intermediate hikers and should take 2-3 hours to complete.

I’ve done this walk multiple times, most recently for sunset and it was one of the most incredible I’ve ever witnessed. The bluebird day disappeared into a fiery red horizon over the Taupō caldera, and we could see a snowcapped Ruapehu in the distance. You can read more in my Mount Tauhara Hiking Guide here.


Key Details:

Distance 3.3 km each way
Time 2 to 3 hours return
Difficulty Intermediate to advanced
Max Elevation 1,088 m
Elevation Gain 518 m
Facilities None
Dog Friendly No
Mt Tauhara

To access the trailhead, take the SH5 Napier-Taupō Highway and turn onto Mountain Road. After about 1 km, you’ll find the Mount Tauhara carpark (just make sure not to obstruct the farm gates or driveways). The trail begins at the gate, so you know you’re in the right spot.

As you set off on your hike, keep in mind there are no facilities or water sources along the track. Prepare accordingly by bringing enough water, wearing good hiking shoes or boots, and using the toilet beforehand. Dogs are not allowed on this trail due to potential harm to farm animals and native birdlife.

The hike starts with a steep climb through a working farm. Be mindful of livestock and respect the landowner’s property. You’ll also pass by a shooting range before entering the forest line. The temperature cools down here, providing a nice respite from the sun before reaching the summit. It’s a bit of a scramble to get to the top which can be tricky if it’s muddy, but there are plenty of roots and tree branches to help you up.

At the summit, take in panoramic views of Lake Taupō, Tongariro National Park, and on a clear day, even Mount Taranaki in the west and the Kaimanawa Ranges in the east. For those interested in catching a sunrise or sunset, make sure to familiarise yourself with the trail, pack a headlamp, and bring extra clothing layers for when the temperature drops.

Mt Tauhara
Mt Tauhara

For your return trip, descend via the same route you took uphill and be prepared for some impact on your knees. Be mindful of changing weather conditions throughout the year. While winter offers snowy landscapes, it’s quite rare to get snow on the peak. Always check the weather forecast and trail status for safety.

In summary, Mount Tauhara provides a challenging yet rewarding short walk suitable for most hikers and fitness levels with the right preparation. Don’t forget to plan ahead, carry some snacks and plenty of water, and show respect towards nature as you embark on one of my favourite short walks in New Zealand.

Written by Tristan Balme (

Written by Tristan Balme


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