Mount Tapuae-o-Uenuku

Mount Tapuae-o-Uenuku, translated from Te Reo Maori means “footprint of the rainbow”. This is particularly apt, as it is almost continuously capped in snow and cloud cover at its summit, stretching as high as the rainbows that grace the area.


New Zealand’s tallest mountain outside of the Southern Alps, 'Tappy' as it is known to the locals provides a wealth of local history and experiences to enjoy. Standing proud at 2885 metres, it is a marvel to behold, and a must climb for any mountaineer visiting the region.


Perhaps one of New Zealand’s most famous explorers, Sir Edmund Hillary used Mt Tapuae-o-Uenuku to practice for his legendary climb of the world tallest mountain, Mount Everest. Sir Ed was stationed at the Woodbourne Air-force base in Blenheim, in 1944 during World War 2.


He was quoted as saying “I'd climbed a decent mountain at last” in regards to his experience climbing Tappy. Dominating the area, Mount Tapue-o-Unuku can be seen from almost everywhere in the surrounding valleys. This fascinated young Ed enough to brave a solo climb of the mountain. The challenge took him three days, with a 32 kilometre tramp through the Awatere valley, another long climb up the Hodder river, and finally culminating with a 14 hour climb to reach the summit.


 Intense and spectacular views on a mild weathered day, the tramp to the top is worth attempting if you have experience in alpine conditions. If you plan to hike the mountain, contacting locals Allan and Bev Pitts is a must. They serve as advisers on conditions and will also take details of your trip and intended route.


With huts available to stay in during the climb, contacting the local Marlborough tramping club is important to find out about available space, gain access to facilities, and to seek advice on your attempt to ascend this legendary mountain.


Allan and Bev Pitts (ph 03 575-7471)