Travels - Night on Mount Taranaki

This beautiful volcano was used as a stand-in for Mount Fuji in the film ‘Last of the Samurai’. I am completely in awe of this mountain. Its almost a spiritual experience for me. I say almost because I’m not sure a truly spiritual experience is accompanied by the soundtrack to “Dante’s Peak” playing in your head every time you look at it.

I’ve been here twice, staying in the atmospheric Stratford Mountain Lodge a little way below the snow line. I refer you to my earlier comments in a previous blog about high thread counts on bed linen. The only tent I have ever been in has been a wedding marquee.

On both visits I went up and did an early morning walk just below the snow line.

The first time I left a note in my room to say where I’d gone, I know F. all about climbing on mountains but I also know it is people like me who know F. all who get lost and incur expensive mountain rescue operations. I drove up a winding road to a high car park, and then walked some way up past the flying fox that goes up to the ski fields.

To be honest I felt I was being a bit of a risk-averse twat.

Granted that there had been pouring rain the day before, and flooding, and there were dire warnings about not going forward without a shovel to dig yourself out of any avalanches, but then on the other hand, I was on my own and I strongly suspected I was the only person on the mountain.

I did, however, do a bit of reading when I got back down, and discovered that it was probably good to be risk averse on this particular mountain. It looks very beautiful, almost friendly, but as a local guide said, it also gets alpine real quick and it has its own mercurial weather that can quickly catch you out. 80 people have died on Taranaki since they started keeping records, and they apparently anticipate an average of one person a year.

I’ll do another post about that early morning walk and the perils of taking pictures half way up a mountain in a howling gale, but for now, I thought I’d feature another aspect of this mountain that I was incredibly lucky to see - a clear dark sky.