To commemorate ANZAC Day, we went for a road trip down to the Bay of Plenty to climb Mt Edgecumbe/Putauaki.
Mt Putauaki is an 821m extinct volcano situated behind the township of Kawerau 30 minutes from Rotorua and Whakatane. It is probably the most prominent mountain in the otherwise largely flat Bay of Plenty region, and easily recognized by its distinctive flat top caused by the large crater within.
The mountain is privately owned and requires a permit to climb. Permits are easily obtained* from the Maori Investments Group, and cost $3 per group/family.
Access to the mountain track is tricky, and took us over an hour to locate. Asking the locals for advice proved fruitless, as they barely seemed aware of the towering volcano in their backyard.
Mountain access is via Mckee Road, an un-signposted private road adorned with foreboding signs strictly prohibiting access and threatening trespassers with swinging rogue logs. (The road also serves as a milling/logging route).
After we finally took up the courage to enter, we cautiously made our way down the mountain road. The actual mountain track is not marked either, but is located just before Putauaki Road, off McKee Road.
Because the mountain is privately owned, there is no maintained walking path, but rather the route to the summit is on a 4wd track. It’s a relentlessly steep but otherwise a very easy and pleasant walk to the top and commands impressive views of the coast and BOP region. Including a lunch break at the top, the return journey is around 3 hours.
Due to the close proximity of Rotorua, the Lake District, and Whakatane, there are numerous other exciting opportunities for short day walks, and the area would make for an ideal (romantic) weekend away. Alternatively, Mt Putauaki is also a nice gateway stop before heading on to the East Cape (to climb Mt Hikurangi). (As just a day trip from Auckland it is a little tiring, as it involves at least 6 hours of driving)
*These permits probably also include visiting the Tarawera Lake and Falls, located on the other side of the mountain, although this would need to be confirmed.