Friday, December 05, 2008


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.


Blogger Richard said...

About 1969/70 I flew to Taranaki on the way to Wellington with a fellow freezing worker who was training to be a pilot. We stopped at New Plymouth the reason he didn't at that stage have his night flying licence.* I then hitched to Wellington. But we flew back from New Plymouth later - I still have a few pictures taken form the Victa Airtourer (which model of aircraft I myself had taken lessons in - small two-seater - maybe three) but designed for aerobatics and pilot training;(and pilots or trainers with me looped the loop, glided, and side slipped into landing (at Ardmore) etc))

As these planes fly much lower and slower than passenger jets - about (I forget but possibly 150 knots - ~280 kph and about as high as Taranaki!) it is a great way to see the land: and the land below from Auckland to Taranaki is very, in fact extremely, rugged - I couldn't see many places for an emergency landing.

Years later I took my daughter for a holiday to New Plymouth. The area and surrounding Mt Taranaki is both beautiful and very interesting.

*But we must have started late as surely we could have got there during the day - not sure how that happened.

11:00 pm  

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