Top five mountains to conquer
This mountain has everything to offer, from brightly coloured crater lakes to regenerating native vegetation and steaming, geothermal ridges. There are plenty of opportunities to snap some good views overlooking the surrounding countryside but to get the stunning 360-degree view, you will need to make it to the summit. The climb takes about an hour and a half and at the top you will be greeted with unforgettable views of Mt Tarawera, Lake Tarawera, the Paeroa Range and as far south as the volcanic peaks of Tongariro National Park. without getting to the top of Mount Ngongotaha¯ at least once. The mountain can be reached two ways — the Violet Bonnington Reserve or up Mountain Rd. The former takes you on an easy walk through unlogged native bush before connecting up to the Jubilee Track where the track becomes moderately steep before reaching Mountain Rd. It’s a short walk from there to the summit. Alternatively, you can drive up Mountain Rd and start your walk from the road which winds around the mountain and gives you uninterrupted views of Lake Rotorua on your way up. Give yourself an hour and a half to reach the top. Be prepared for some serious slogging to reach the top of Whakapoungakau, a rhyolite dome on the shores of Lake Okataina. The track starts from the Outdoor Education Centre, off Lake Okataina Rd. The first part of the route follows the Western Okataina Walkway before turning off to the right to Whakapoungakau. Be sure to pack plenty of scroggin, sandwiches and water as the round trip will take four to five hours. But if you’re all about those Instagram posts, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to lake views at the top. If you have managed to climb all the mountains near Rotorua, take a trip over the hill to Mount Maunganui to take on Mauao. While the walk to the summit certainly cannot be described as a casual stroll, the panoramic views at the summit make it worthwhile. It takes between 30 and 45 minutes to reach the top, depending on how frequently you stop along the way. The two most popular tracks are the Oruahine and Waikorire tracks. Both start from the ocean side of the base track. Just follow the boardwalk along the beach and past the surf lifesaving club to begin.
Editor’s note: Only mountains that are free to climb were considered for this list Mount Tauhara.