New Zealand (2,518 m) – Sacred Mountain of the Maori
Mount Taranaki is arguably the most prominent and famous geological features of New Zealand’s North Island. An inactive stratavolcano, Taranaki is famous among geologists due to the fact that it has collapsed and reformed due to eruptions on at least five separate occasions, an extreme rarity. Its name is Maori and means “Shining Peak”. It was also known as Mount Egmont, but this European moniker has since been dropped from common usage.
Taranaki played a prominent role in the legends of the Maori. As the story goes, Taranaki once resided in the middle of the island, but was driven out by a rival deity following a love dispute. He fled west, where he became petrified and took the form of a mountain. During the 19th century, the British colonial government seized the mountain and forbid the Maori from visiting. This edict was later reversed, and since 1978 Taranaki has been under local Maori jurisdiction.
Mount Taranaki juts out on its own peninsula on the west-central coast of the North Island. It is an extremely popular recreational area. However, the mountain itself is considered dangerous, both because geologists believe it is due for another eruption, as well as to the high number of fatalities among climbers attempting the peak. Taranaki is located almost exactly half way between Auckland and Wellington, being a littler under two hundred miles from each of these two major cities.