Postcard Sunday: New Zealand

Sunday, June 21 2015 2:00 pm, GMT+1h Laura | Leave a comment
Mount Taranaki and Lake Mangamahoe

Mount Taranaki, or Mount Egmont, is an active but quiescent stratovolcano in the Taranaki region on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Although the mountain is more commonly referred to as Taranaki, it has two official names under the alternative names policy of the New Zealand Geographic Board. The 2518-metre-high mountain is one of the most symmetrical volcanic cones in the world. There is a secondary cone, Fanthams Peak (Māori: Panitahi), 1,966 metres (6,450 ft), on the south side. Because of its resemblance to Mount Fuji, Taranaki provided the backdrop for the movie The Last Samurai.

According to Māori mythology, Taranaki once resided in the middle of the North Island, with all the other New Zealand volcanoes. The beautiful Pihanga was coveted by all the mountains, and a great battle broke out between them. Tongariro eventually won the day, inflicted great wounds on the side of Taranaki, and causing him to flee. Taranaki headed westwards, following Te Toka a Rahotu (the Rock of Rahotu) and forming the deep gorges of the Whanganui River, paused for a while, creating the depression that formed the Te Ngaere swamp, then heading north. Further progress was blocked by the Pouakai ranges, and as the sun came up Taranaki became petrified in his current location. When Taranaki conceals himself with rainclouds, he is said to be crying for his lost love, and during spectacular sunsets, he is said to be displaying himself to her. In turn, Tongariro’s eruptions are said to be a warning to Taranaki not to return.

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