Mt Hikurangi has the distinction of being the first mountain (and possibly, although debated, also the first land) to see the sunrise and welcome in the new day. At 1750m it is also the North Island’s largest non-volcanic mountain, providing some interesting alpine vegetation.
The mountain is not technically difficult to climb, but the track to the summit is a long arduous one, taking in a 1500m ascent, and at 10 hours return, is a demanding test of fitness.
Fortunately, there is a hut half way up the mountain to welcome exhausted climbers.
As the track crosses private land visitors are requested to first contact the Ngati Porou Visitors Centre, to ensure the track is not closed due to lambing or spiritual reasons. To stay at the hut it costs $15 per person. More information is available here.
The track can be broken into two sections. The first section is a relentless 3 – 4 hour uphill trudge to the hut through a giant sprawling sheep station. Although seemingly unending it’s a rewarding walk and, surrounded by sheep and cattle, a wonderfully New Zealandesque experience.
At 1000m, and some 20minutes from the hut, the track forks off to some intricate towering Maori carvings erected as part of the millenium celebrations.
The hut, roughly marking the half-way point, is good old back-country style. And, according to one entry in the hut-book, is just like Simon’s house.
From the hut to the summit it’s another four hours return. This part of the track takes in some exciting alpine scenery, flora, and most significantly the bastard spikey Spaniard plant from hell. It deceitfully masquarades as a sturdy flax, enticing walkers to grab it for support on the steeper sections, and then proceeds to unleash it’s painful sting.
Unfortunately, the weather gods punished us, and dealt us heavy fog for most of the way, making finding the marker poles challenging in some places.
But cloud and spikey plants aside, it’s an exciting climb.
To get there, head up the east coast road from Gisborne, past Ruatoria, and turn off at Taupuaeroa Road. Continue up this road for about 15km, taking care to not hit any of the wandering and sleeping cattle, and then at the sign, head up to the car park in the sheep station.
View all photos here.