Fanthams Peak is the most notable appendage to Mount Taranaki’s otherwise perfectly symmetrical cone. The texture and colour of the bare volcanic landscape is other-worldly and coupled with the endless views, make this a memorable walk.
The start of the track is signposted along the Summit Track from behind the Dawson Falls Visitor Centre.
Follow the metalled track through forest (45 minutes). On entering the leatherwood scrub, you pass a commemorative bench to Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay, erected by the Mount Egmont Alpine Club. A little further on, Hooker Shelter is the best spot to appreciate the views uphill to Fanthams Peak and Mount Taranaki, while also taking in those of the Tongariro National Park volcanoes.
There now begins the ascent of a thousand steps, traversing the tussockfields and moss encrusted rocks (45 minutes). Shortly after the junction with the upper track to Lake Dive, a poled route over the scoria begins. This section can be frustrating as you take one step back for every two forward. Take small steps and zigzag. Don’t look up at the peak, as it never seems to get any closer. This solidified rocky outcrop is not actually Fanthams Peak, but the poled route leads behind it to Syme Hut, anchored securely below the red scoria of Fanthams Peak.
The conical mound of Mount Taranaki is a mix of steep bare slopes, solidified lava bluffs and a selection of snowfields. The Sharks Tooth caps the cone. Looking south, the entire sweep of Wanganui’s great bay stretches to the misty horizon. The distinctive hummocks of the Beehives and Lake Dive are close-by in the national park boundaries.
On the descent, look for the soft stuff on the scoria and walk in slow motion. Take frequent rests on the steps to abate the shakes on the knees. And lap up the views.
Fanthams Peak is the most notable appendage to Mount Taranaki’s otherwise perfectly symmetrical cone. Until around 3,300 years ago, lava bubbles rose through the cone of Mount Taranaki and found a weakness in the structure. The pressurised bodies of magma then seeped through the fracture and on reaching the surface, spewed out, forming a parasitic cone.
Fanthams Peak owes its naming to Fanny Fantham, also known as Francis Louisa Fantham. Aged 19, she was the first woman to reach what was then known as Panitahi. During a brief discussion on the peak, various possibilities for a European name were mooted. ‘Fannys Peak’ was one, but the general consensus found disfavour, as many ‘Fannys’ may later climb the peak. However it was felt there would have been only one Fantham. The naming was sealed in a christening ceremony with a sprinkling of water.
Syme Hut is named after Rod Syme, who completed his 200th ascent of Egmont in 1955. Following the formation of the Mount Egmont Alpine Club in 1928, the National Park Board applied for a grant to build a hut on Fanthams Peak. Many members spent the summer hauling material to the site, a supreme effort that was capped in 1930 with the opening of the first hut. The corrugated iron roof and walls housed 9 bunks.
North Island ▷ Taranaki ▷ Stratford
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A long walk in one day, with a lot of stairs but the view of the volcano deserves it. One of the best in New Zealand!
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Tracks are well marked, well maintained, no rubbish. Beautiful landscape. Good information from New Plymouth i-Site and Dawon Falls Information.
The peak is close to Mt Taranaki. I put a 7 but when I did it, it was more a 4-5! You start from Dawson Falls carpark and climb stairs before reaching the actual mount. Then it is only gravel to the top. Very steep! Unfortunately it was cloudy all the way and I could not see anything at the top. Certainly a great walk with a clean sky. 3-4 hours return.
Nice view from the top, but the track is very bad, often with stairs. Lots of easy walks around Dawson Falls.
Nice Walk, rewarding views, tricky track though over the volcanic grind.
Could be a good view from there over the landscape and to Mt Taranaki - if it's good weather. But it's a hard walk - and the same way back.
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 😍