Fanthams Peak

Also known as Panitahi

In 1887, 19 year old Fanny Fantham became the first European woman to climb the peak previously named Panitahi. Although a mountaineering trip in winter, you can emulate Fanny’s achievement on a summer day walk. Fantham’s Peak is a parasitic volcanic cone on the side of Mt Taranaki, and with Syme Hut located near the summit, it can be a magnificent place to spend the night.

List Status Official
Elevation 1,962 m (6,437 ft)
Location/List North Island, New Zealand
Region Taranaki/Wanganui/Manawatu
Location Coordinates 39° 18′ 38″ S, 174° 3′ 58″ E
Nearest Town/s New Plymouth
LINZ Topographic map/s BJ29 Mount Taranaki or Mount Egmont
Geology Volcano
Recommended Route
Duration Help.gif 1-2 days (return)
Distance 7.6 km (4.7 mi)
Start/End Points Dawson Falls Visitor Centre
Difficulty Help.gif Hard
Track conditions Help.gif Path, Track
Season Help.gif December to April
Sights Views of Taranaki, and to Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe; Syme Hut
Hazards Alpine weather, snow & ice in winter, mist


Getting There

By Car To get to the Dawson Falls visitor centre from Stratford, turn on to Opunake Rd, then after about 15km, turn right into Manaia Road. Dawson Falls Visitor Centre and carpark is at the end of Manaia Road.

Google Earth Map

NZ Topographic Map

Our Recommended Route

The walk from Dawson Falls to Fantham’s Peak is about a 6-7 hour return journey, so can easily be done in a day. However, with Syme Hut (10 bunks) situated at the summit, you may wish to consider spending the night here, soaking up the atmospheric views at dusk and dawn.

The tramp starts from the Dawson Falls Visitor Centre, where you can see numerous displays on the areas history, and check local conditions with the DOC staff who are there Wednesday to Sunday. There are also plenty of other short walks in the area you may wish to explore.

From the Visitor Centre, follow the signs to the Fantham’s Peak summit. You will first pass through through dense forest, and then past the small Hooker shelter, which is surrounded by sub-alpine scrub. The trek itself includes hundreds of steps, and eventually you will emerge on to tussock, just past the track which leads to Kapuni Lodge. After another steep staircase, the route intersects with the High Level Round the Mountain circuit. You will then head up steep scoria slopes marked by snow poles, and on to Fantham’s Peak.


Over 60 people have died on the slopes on Mt Taranaki, so it is not a mountain to be taken lightly. With it’s location to the west of the North Island, Taranaki’s weather often changes dramatically and quickly. A clear day in New Plymouth does not indicate a clear day on the mountain, and up to date information should always be obtained from the Dawson Falls information centre, or the Met Service. Even then, you need to have clothing suitable for alpine weather, and if you’re on the mountain outside of summer, you would need experience using an ice axe and crampons. White out conditions are also common, so navigational equipment and skills are recommended.

While Mt Taranaki is currently dormant (last eruption 1755), it is still a volcano, and is capable of changing it’s volcanic status in the future.