Panitahi-Fanthams Peak: Not For The Faint-Hearted

Without a doubt, ‘Mounga’ (“Mount”) Taranaki is the significant feature along the west coast of Aotearoa NZ’s North Island.  At 2,518 metres high (8,261 feet, for those of you who conceptualise accordingly), “Taranaki” dominates the skyline on all levels, and from all sides – as he should, really.

Māori lore recounts a “battle of all battles”, culminating in the “hiding of all hidings” – a gargantuan, terrifying, love- and lava-fuelled scrap between the two main heavyweight contenders of our fair nation’s northern volcanic landscape: mighty Mount Tongariro, and our boy, chiefly and majestic Mounga Taranaki (*read a suitably more fleshed-out version of events here, in one of my previous posts).

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‘He Tikanga Mō Te Taiao (“Earth Etiquette”) 101’: How To Save A Life

Last weekend I had the bloody time of my life ‘bush-craft training’ at the foot of the Ruahine Range/s with OTNZ.

And, the whole experience got me thinking about the kinds of things we do (or in some cases, clearly don’t (but probably should have)) to proactively keep ourselves safe outdoors.

Doing a fairly extensive “crash course” in ‘how to survive’ can certainly spark thoughts and memories regarding previous encounters with our Earth Māmā ‘Papatūānuku’ that were, in all certainty, dice-rolls and ‘lucky escapes’.

I’m sure I more than ‘hold my own’ in these terms, particularly as a relative beginner to tramping (3 years is sweet fuck-all, y’all), but I’m not so certain that this is the best, most learn-worthy approach to have, because what I’ve noticed more than these ‘moments’ are all the times I’ve totes smoked the ‘should be proud’ standard, too.

There’s a lesser peak that sits alongside Mount Taranaki, called ‘Panitahi’ (or “Fantham’s Peak”, after Fanny Fantham), and over Easter my mountaineering mate Mave and I opted to try climbing all the way up to the top.

Panitahi-Fantham’s Peak (1,966m)…

The weather forecast for our particular day described an initially rainy morning that would clear early-afternoon, potentially allowing us to ascend in the sun, the usual Mount Taranaki cloud-cover flowing in and out, as usual.

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Pouākai Circuit: Our Mad-, Rad-ASF Multi-Day “Mud Slushie” Slog

Every tramper has their inevitable turning-point away from the relative simplicity and safety of the day-hike, and towards the more logistically and physically challenging multi-day experience.

I’ve literally just had mine.

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Mount Taranaki: Five Tips To Get You From Start To Summit, & Back Again

*Feb ’17 (update): After recently climbing to the summit of Mount Ngauruhoe, my advice is to go ahead with the whole micro-spikes ‘investment’.  Multipurpose-asf – what more can you ask for?

*Nov ’16 (update): Just a bit of clarity around a couple of points, really, seeing as I have more life-experience under my belt re: ‘mountains’…

Firstly, the whole micro-spikes thing; I should note that we attempted this hike as relative beginners to alpine, technically-challenging environments, and I would hazard a guess that my beginners’ boots were not the best possible choice in terms of “sensible shoes”.  I needed those spikes at the time; however, better boots-cum-alpine terrain ‘worksburgers’ would/should be the preferred option for Mounga Taranaki.

The scree here isn’t deep and soft like the stuff in Tongariro NP.  Rather, it’s shallow and unforgiving, and IMO anything less than alpine-appropriate boots simply won’t “do you right” – especially if you’re having your first go at it.  I’m now the proud owner of two different varieties: Salewa’s ‘Firetail Evo Mid GTX’, and The North Face’s ‘Ultra Gore-tex Surround Mid’, and I’d happily recommend either for sheer comfort and superb traction.

Time will totally tell, too; am planning to try these out on both Mount Ngauruhoe’s summit hike and the Pouakai Circuit over this coming Christmas-New Year’s.

Secondly (*finally): I heavily encourage you to do this hike with company; preferably someone you trust implicitly, but certainly somebody who can keep up with you, and with a keen sense of task completion.

No fuck-wits along for the proverbial ride, thanks.  People die up here.

Make the most of this one – the sense of satisfaction once you’re at the top is immense.


I’ve been thinking a lot these last few days about why I started this blog.

In particular, I’ve found myself pondering exactly how my posts and messages contribute to the outside world.

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