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New Zealand's Volcanic Trinity


Mount Egmont / Taranaki :: Mount Ruapehu :: Mount Ngauruhoe


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Mount Egmont/Taranaki:


From Whakapapa I travelled south to the coastal city of Wanganui and then due west to the rural town of Stratford near the base of the isolated Mount Egmont - or Taranaki to use its Maori name - the most frequently climbed mountain in New Zealand but also the one with the highest death toll due to the sudden and unpredictable changes in weather conditions resulting from its exposure to the prevailing winds from the Tasman Sea bordering it on three sides.

Early next morning I was grateful to get a lift from the camp-site proprietress - there being no public transport service - to the "Plateau" car park high on the eastern slopes of the archetypal volcanic cone - a look-a-like for Japan's Mount Fuji. Aloft the bare, barren lava fields streaming from the summit glowed a fiery red in the rays of the rising sun.

Mt. Egmont ( Taranaki ) in the North Island

Mt. Egmont

( Taranaki )

Starting from the roadhead a path contours around the mountain through dense shrubbery to the "Staircase to the Stars", a wooden walk-way, built to prevent excessive erosion by the passage of many feet, that winds up through a narrow gorge between towering cliffs and over steep scoria-scree slopes for a tiring total of 906 steps.

Mt. Egmont ( Taranaki ) in the North Island

Mt. Egmont

( Taranaki )

Above the scree an enjoyable scramble along the crest of the " Lizard ", a prominent, rocky ridge, led to a breach in the crater walls but a gale-force wind blasting through the gap made entrance difficult. Once inside I crossed the small, permanent ice-field covering the floor of the crater and scaled a boulder-strewn slope to gain the summit ( c8260 feet ) of Egmont poised above the stygian depths of a subsidiary crater.

Fringing the base of the outer slopes, embedded in a carpet of lush green bush, a multitude of small lakes sparkled like jewels in the sunlight. Beyond, in the distance, soared the majestic, white massif of Ruapehu flanked by the smaller, black cone of Ngauruhoe. To the west and to the south extended the pale-blue waters of the Tasman Sea but the view to the east across the main crater was blocked by the prominent pinnacle aptly named the "Shark's Tooth".

Summit View from Mt. Egmont

View from

summit

of

Mt. Egmont

It was a long but scenic 18Km walk back along the road through the bush and farmlands to the campsite in Stratford but I was content to have completed my round of the trinity of volcanoes on the North Island of New Zealand.


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