The Greenwood Guide to New Zealand

Taranaki

  • Walk, climb, ski or just stare in amazement at the splendour of Mt Taranaki. There's a nice driving route that circles the volcano allowing you to photograph it from all angles.
  • On your way round, you'll get the opportunity to veer off the road towards the beaches of Oakura and Ounake (both world-class surfing and wind-surfing spots).
  • Be entertained by the extensive programme of events, day and night, that take place in New Plymouth's Pukekura Park during its extraordinary Festival of Lights.
  • Here's a rare treat for garden-lovers. In the shadow of the mountain is the stunning Pukeiki Garden, home to one of the world's greatest collections of rhododendrons, azaleas and others.

Mt. Taranaki or Mt. Egmont

The perfectly shaped 2518m volcanic ash cone of Mt. Taranaki dominates the region with its impressive form. It's a pristine replica of Japan's Mt. Fuji and was used as a backdrop for 'The Last Samurai' (although filming of the Last Samurai became controversial with the Maori who believe the mountain is sacred).

'Taranaki' was the name given to the mountain by the Maori and Captain Cook named it Mount Egmont after John Perceval (2nd Earl of Egmont) who promoted Cook's first voyage. The surrounding Egmont National Park retains the title given by Cook while the mountain continues to be known as both. I rather like 'Taranaki' - 'tara' meaning 'mountain peak' and 'naki' or more likely 'ngaki' meaning 'shining', a reference to the mountains normally snow-capped peak. The lush green fertile slopes can be explored in a whole manner of ways from driving, hiking, climbing (although do be careful) and skiing.

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