Last year I blogged about my recurrent fear that Mt Taranaki - or, rather, the summit of Mt Taranaki - does not really exist. Everytime I had gotten close enough to take a peek at the peak it had been covered in a turban of dirty clouds. I wasn't sure whether Taranaki's recalcitrance was due to an Olympian haughtiness or a strange sort of modesty, but I could understand the paranoia behind the decision by a couple of artists to institute permanent CCTV surveillance of the great mountain. During a recent flight to Wellington, though, I was able to get a God's eye view of the summit of Taranaki, and I can confirm to sceptics that it is quite as beautiful as all those postcards and calendar covers make out.
The flight from Auckland to Wellington often seems to traverse a tundra of cloud, so it was a pleasant surprise to be given a generous view of the South Taranaki plains, as well as the famous mountain.
The flight home was even better - as soon as we'd climbed free of windy Wellington I found myself gazing down at Kapiti Island, the last remaining piece of the ancient land-bridge between the North and South Islands and the bastion of that great warlord Te Rauparaha. Better still, I was given a view of the rugged, western coast of the island - the side you can't see on that drive along the Kapiti Coast - as my Virgin Blue Flight moved northwards. It felt like I was looking at the dark side of the moon, but the 'Stay Seated' light was still on, the captain was warning us not to use electronic devices yet, and I didn't fancy a dip in the Tasman, so my camera stayed in my bag. You'll have to wait for the CCTV.