This climb is not for the faint-hearted or those with vertigo. Confidence at height, all four limbs and good flexibility are essential. Port Taranaki dominates the view to the north. Large oil tankers and cargo vessels resemble toys from the summit. The imposing chimney of New Plymouth Power Station stands alongside like a pathetic twin to Paritutu’s majesty. Back Beach stretches south, barricaded by sheer cliffs of orange sandstone.
The track starts from the parking area near Paritutu Road off Centennial Drive.
From central New Plymouth, head west along St. Aubyn Street, which merges with Breakwater Road. Turn left into Ngamotu Road then immediately right into Centennial Drive. The parking area is on the right.
If coming from the west, follow Beach Road from Omata until it turns into Centennial Drive.
The track is extremely steep and slippery, In sections it is aided with a cable bolted into the rocks. The rock has been worn smooth by numerous footfalls and can be difficult to find purchase. The lack of good foot and hand holes means you often have to take large steps. Watch for other climbers and try to predict meeting places to aid passing.
Paritutu has been radiometrically dated at 1.75 million years old and is thought to be the solidified spine of a volcanic vent. As the lava pushed up from below, it created stresses in the rocks, which eventually became inundated with oil and gas. This at times has leaked onto the New Plymouth foreshore.
The volcanic intrusion is geologically connected to the Sugar Loaf Islands. All these volcanic remnants are the first in the series of volcanic cones, which have characterised the Taranaki area for nearly two million years. The focus for volcanic activity has passed through the Kaitake Range and Pouakai Range to the present peak of Mount Taranaki.
The 749 hectare Sugar Loaf Island Marine Protected Area was established in 1991 to protect the area in its natural state. The area was selected because the of the abundance of aquatic and terrestrial life. The islands harbour over 86 native plant species and 80 recorded fish species inhabit the fertile waters.
The Sugar Loaf Islands received their European name from Captain Cook in 1770, as they reminded him of the way sugar was stored in heaps or loaves. European whalers and traders lived on the islands from 1828. Following the construction of Port Taranaki in 1881, reclamation and the building of the breakwater joined Mikotahi to the mainland.
North Island ▷ Taranaki ▷ New Plymouth
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Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍