Go the Naki! (8/17/09)
As of tomorrow, I am halfway done with classes at Vic. And band camp hasn’t even started at Delaware yet. Bizarre.
I had another amazing, albeit rainy, weekend in the Taranaki region, on the west coast of the North Island. The main town is New Plymouth but the main attraction is DEFINITELY Mt. Taranaki, an active volcano which peaks at 2518 metres above sea level. During the heart of winter, it is extremely difficult to reach the peak, especially with the lack of gear that I have with me in NZ. Although it was quite misty for most of the time we were there, the peak did emerge from the mist on Sunday for about 15 minutes, allowing me to snap a few pictures.
We attempted to do some short walks around the mountain on Saturday, but heavy rain and even some snow kept us at bay. Instead we checked out Puke Ariki, a museum in New Plymouth that has exhibits about the history of Mt. Taranaki, Maori culture and New Zealand ecology. It was fun to explore for the afternoon. That evening, we headed to TSB Bank field for my first rugby match! Taranaki was playing Hawkes Bay, so it was a battle between the two places I’ve visited on the North Island! I had no idea what was going on, but it was really fun regardless. I think my favorite part was when a couple from India sitting in front of us turned around and asked us who was the better team. Our response was that we didn’t even know which team was which. However, if was a great experience and only cost $5 thanks to my uni ID.
Saturday night we headed to a local pub where the team was celebrating their draw (better than a loss, and MAN what a comeback). On Sunday morning, we got an earlier start and headed around the coast, which was a beautiful drive. This was when Mt. Taranaki chose to appear through the clouds. We continued driving until we reached the guiding stone.
The story of the guiding stone is a Maori legend about two great mountains. As legend has it, Mt. Taranaki and Mt. Tongariro were fighting over Mt. Pihanga, the only female volcano. As the two volcanos fought, they spit fire and ash between the two. In the end, Tongariro was victorious and made Taranaki leave. Here’s map to help you better understand:
Taranaki used the guiding stone to find his way to his current home on the West Coast. There are still some who will not drive their car between the two because they are afraid that the mountains will begin fighting again and spit fire across the North Island.
After the guiding stone, we travelled up the mountain to see Dawson Falls. But first we got slowed down by a herd of cattle walking down the road.
Once we got to the trailhead, it was only about a 5 minute walk to get to the falls. However, it was pouring rain. Pouring. However, it was well worth it. The falls were freezing, since most of the water comes from melting snow and the water was making an incredible amount of wind when it hit the pool at the bottom.
I’m so glad I got to travel to yet another absolutely beautiful part of this country. Stay posted in the next couple days for my travel plans for the mid-semester break.