Trudging up mountains on Christmas Day isn’t on most peoples agendas, but we aren’t really ‘most people’…
The not-to-be-sniffed-at 2,518 metre Mount Taranaki was our challenge for the festive season. Planning doesn’t always work in New Zealand though, as the weather is so changeable, so we ended up climbing the mountain (an active volcano) on Boxing Day instead.
Dawson Falls and Wilkies Pools in Egmont National Park were where we spent a few glorious hours Christmas Day. As usual, there were some extremely generous and hospitable Kiwi’s out and about, whom when we wished a “Merry Christmas”, proffered their delicious picnic to us and the elderly grandmother stated “we had done her a favour accepting her food as they have so much!” – there are some lovely people out there! The Falls and Pools were beautiful, we thoroughly enjoyed the short walks to them through the native bush listening to the myriad bird calls that exist in NZ. The rest of the day we enjoyed playing Bananagrams, watching Lion King and eating some treats – blue cheese for Liz and tasty specialty chocolate and delicious craft beer from Mike’s brewery for both of us. Wahey!
Ascending Mount Taranaki was no mean feat, not just because of the height (it’s over 1000 metres taller than the highest mountain in the UK – Ben Nevis), but because of what is underfoot… none of the surfaces were favourable: sloping gravel, steep concrete, thin dirt/scree which you constantly slip on, and boulders to scramble over. Not an enjoyable climb. I was mostly on my bum when descending the scree. It’s an achievement to say we’ve been up it, but we wouldn’t recommend it… it’s a relentless mountain. The view above the clouds was incredible though!
A bit of trivia for you – Mount Tarankaki was used as the filming location for much of ‘The Last Samurai’, because of it’s similar appearance to the also cone-shaped Mount Fuji in Japan.
The Aussie film ‘Red Dog’ was our Boxing Day evening entertainment – what a great film!!
Next up… Tongariro Alpine Circuit