Learning & Research - Akoranga me Rangahau
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The Journey of Mount Taranaki

by Sorrel Hoskin  

Beautiful Mt Taranaki. Image: Private Collection
Beautiful Mt Taranaki. Image: Private Collection

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Mountain, myth

In the past many magnificent mountain gods lived near the heart of the North Island Te Ika a Māui (the fish of Māui): Ruapehu, Tongariro, Ngāruahoe, Taranaki, Tauhara... and the only female - little Pihanga.

Pihanga was a gracefully contoured mountain with bush robed flanks and a delicate nature. All the mountains wanted Pihanga for their own - but particularly Tongariro and Taranaki.

The earth shook as the two fought. Lightening crashed, thunder rolled, ash and molten lava spumed from the mountains. In the fighting Tongariro lost his head, some say he deliberately broke it off to fling it at Taranaki, others say Taranaki sliced it off with a powerful blow. The top flew off and fell into the centre of Lake Taupo where it can be seen today as Moututaiko Island.
But Tongariro was the stronger of the two mountains. He defeated Taranaki, whose peak shuddered and sides convulsed. Tongariro gave a final departing kick to Taranaki's flanks and the defeated mountain dived underground. Toka - a - Rauhotu, a small stone of great mana, acted as a guide stone, leading him to the coast. In his flight he carved the Wanganui River, forming the Ngāere swamp when he stopped to rest.

At the water's edge Toka - a - Rauhotu lead Taranaki beneath the sea and north-west up the coast. He surfaced briefly and glimpsed Pouākai, a beautiful range. He settled beside her, and the guide stone rested on his seaward side.

Taranaki and Pouākai had many children, wind and rain, plants and people, rocks and rivers.

In the Central North Island Tongariro stands protectively over the little mountain Pihanga, wrapping her in soft clouds of love as she lies nestled by the town of Turangi on the shores of Lake Taupo.
First published 12 April 2005




Edith Halcombe's journal - the papers consist of Edith's account of the ascent of Mt Taranaki with Sir William Fox.
(Ref: 2001 - 181)
Richmond Atkinson family letters - the collection is a limited edition publication which includes letters and journals written by James Crowe Richmond and Henry Robert Richmond describing their voyage to Auckland on the Victory Oct 1850 - 1851, and letters written by Jane Maria Richmond on her voyage to Auckland on the Sir Edward Paget 1852 - 1853
(Ref: 2001 - 576)


Mt Taranaki display
Check out the display of all things related to Mount Taranaki - from cake tins through to mountaineering tales and fizzy drink bottles - in the Taranaki Life Gallery, North Wing, Puke Ariki.




North Egmont Visitors Centre
Discover Mount Taranaki - the geology, flora and fauna, walking tracks and more. Take a short walk then enjoy a coffee and cake at the Mountain Café then stay the night at the historic Camphouse situated almost 1000 metres up Mt Taranaki at North Egmont is an ideal location for people seeking quiet surroundings and stunning views of the North Taranaki coast and Central North Island. It also offers historic atmosphere and access to the beautiful forests and high altitude scenery of Egmont National Park.  Egmont Road, RD 6, Inglewood, Taranaki Phone: 0800 MT TARANAKI (0800 688 2727)

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