This mountain rides high in my dreams

My father took this photo of Mount Taranaki this morning, from the hill behind my parents’ house.


Better quality version on flickr

This mountain rides high in my dreams. My parents took us tramping (hiking, bushwalking) up there when we were children, and it is something that I have seen all through my childhood. It means home to me.

It is so very beautiful when it is covered with snow, even more so with the dusting on the Pouakai and Kaitake ranges, which are the remnants of old volcanoes. It’s lovely in summer too, when the snow almost disappears, except for a few ice patches right at the top.

Mount Taranaki is an active volcano, and it sits in the middle of a semicircular plain. It’s 2,518 metres high (that’s about 8,261 ft for those who use the old money). The land is very fertile, and it is mostly used for dairying. The distances in this photo are a little deceptive – it’s about 20 kilometres from where Dad took the photo to the top of the mountain. The town where my parents live is coastal. So with a little planning, you can go from mountain climbing to surfing in about 20 minutes. Not that you would want to do that right now! That beautiful coating of snow is thanks to a very cold spell that seems to be covering the whole country.

More pictures of Mount Taranaki, and a web cam, where if you are quick, you will catch the last glimpses of the sun shining on the snow.


12 comments on “This mountain rides high in my dreams

  1. Chally says:

    Oh, how beautiful.

  2. ThirdCat says:


    It must be very hard to be not living there.

  3. merc says:

    I went there to surf as a child (Kumara Patch). Returned only this year (30+ years later) to go to Womad.
    The ‘Naki is indeed a magical place with many, many ghosts both benign and other.

  4. Carol says:

    Thanks, father of Deborah! That is one gorgeous photo.
    Have you been to the summit, Deborah?

  5. Deborah says:

    No, I haven’t. I’ve only gone as far up as the top of the translator road on the northern side. We had planned to climb it in March one year, and we had gotten fit and organised for it, but there was an early snowfall. It wasn’t heavy, but my uncle who was going to take us up wasn’t prepared to take inexperienced climbers up in those conditions.

    It can be a very dangerous mountain, not because it’s difficult to climb, but because it’s so easy to get to. The weather conditions can change very quickly, and people get caught out. And they die, from exposure. I recall one school tramping trip where our teacher pulled us off the mountain because within just 20 minutes, we went from a bright sunny day to clouds swirling around us and rain. I think the temperature dropped by 15 degrees or so in those 20 minutes.

  6. Carol says:

    You’re quite right, Deborah. I’ve been up to the top a couple of times; once in summer, once in winter, and I’ve also turned back several times. There’s always another day where mountains are concerned, particularly NZ mountains.

  7. steven says:

    Once, sailing down the Tasman, Taranaki was the only land to see, but for an out of tune oil rig.

    My miss nearly nine year old, also known as Shnoodle la ru and I sometimes see your mountain from Pukarua bay.

  8. Deborah says:

    I’ve very occasionally seen it from somewhere along the Kapiti coast, and it always makes my heart sing. And years ago, when we were living just outside of Palmerston North, we would often see it on winter mornings as we drove down to Massey. I would have happier days when I saw the mountain on my way to work.

  9. kezz says:

    This mountain is great, we have had many happy times staying on the mountain in a crazy chalet/lodge at the base of Mt Taranki. This mountain was the location where our children first experienced a real snow storm, wide eyed and magical!

    We live in Wellington and there is no snow, just icy howling wind. Winter is upon us…super. Perfect for those recession blues.

  10. apiece says:

    How gorgeous. I surfed along this coast with my husband a couple of years ago. Thankfully, there wasn’t any snow on the mountain then.

  11. Giovanni says:

    Should we also mention that sometimes it stands in for Mount Fuji in movies? That’s versatility for you.

  12. Giovanni says:

    and it always makes my heart sing

    Coincidentally, if you replace the g with a k it’s the exact same reaction my partner gets when she sees the rolling hills of her native Waikato.

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