See & Do  >  Walks  >  Mt Tapuae-o-Uenuku

Mt Tapuae-o-Uenuku

At 2885m (9,645 feet), Mt Tapuae-o-Uenuku is the highest New Zealand peak outside the Southern Alps and is a popular three-day hike for experienced groups with good navigational skills.

  • Mt Tapuae O Uenuku, Winter
  • Mt Tapuae O Uenuku1

Tappy, as the locals call it, was the springboard for legendary mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary's climbing career that took him to be the first person to reach the summit of Mt Everest.

"I'd climbed a decent mountain at last," Sir Ed said of his weekend solo climb in 1944, while training with the Royal New Zealand Air Force in Marlborough during WW2.

His three-day weekend on Mt Tappy was no mean feat - walking 32km (20 miles) up the Awatere Valley, followed by a long tramp up the Hodder River and a 14-hour climb to the top, before doing it all in reverse on the way home.

The views can be stunning on a good day, but the mountain shouldn't be attempted in bad weather. 

The Marlborough Tramping Club's website provides information to climbers and trampers planning to visit the Inland Kaikoura Mountains.


17.7km to the summit

Elevation gain: 2,249m




Access is through Gladstone Downs, high up the Awatere Valley, and hikers must head to the Marlborough Tramping Club's website in order to obtain an access number before your tramp. For any questions contact Allan and Bev Pitts (ph 03 575-7471) for advise on local weather conditions and river levels, as well as demand for hut space (please obtain your access number before you ring).