Mount Tapuae-O-Uenuku

Last Modified: 21-9-2020 17:02

© Christopher Cookson  License this image

Tapuae o Uenuku is Marlborough's highest peak at 2885m. Forming part of the Inland Kaikoura Range, Tapuae o Uenuku is also the highest mountain in New Zealand outside the Southern Alps. The mountain's name literally translates as the footsteps of Uenuku, a noted Māori ancestor from Hawaiki.

When Captain Cook sailed down the east coast he was struck by the mountain and named it Mount Odin after the Norwegian god. As the days passed and Tapuae-O-Uenuku remained visible, Cook nicknamed it The Watcher owing the uncanny feeling that all his actions were being observed. Neither of Cook's names were adopted, and the mountain has always been known by its Māori name.

The mountain was first climbed in 1855 by William McRae after a failed attempt in 1849 by Aire. Many years later, Sir Edmund Hillary used it as training for his ascent of Mt. Everest. Today Tapuae o Uenuku remains popular with experienced climbers and received considerable attention in 2000 as it was one of the first places in the world to see the light of the new millennium.

Access to the mountain is via the Hodder River, from the Awatere Valley.

Tapuae o Uenuku can be seen clearly from the Cook Strait ferry and many parts of Marlborough such as Whites Bay and Seddon on a fine day. Even in summer, the peak frequently retains a cap of snow and ice due to its altitude.

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Mount Tapuae-O-Uenuku. (2020) Retrieved April, 24, 2024, from