Taranaki consists of the western projection of the North Island, and is divided at the coast from the Auckland province to the north by the river Mokau, and from the Wellington province to the south by the river Patea. The river Mokau also forms its northern boundary line; its eastern boundary consists in part of the north-easterly bend of the Wanganui, and in part of two lines—one of which unites the river Wanganui to the river Mokau at its source, and the other to the river Patea at its mouth. In all other parts Taranaki is bounded by the ocean. The coast line of the district is not broken by any considerable indentation. Starting from the mouth of the Patea, and following the shore, which runs at first nearly in the direction of the snow-clad summit of Mount Egmont (the native name of which is Taranaki), a circuit is made towards
the north-west, following round the mountain's base. The lava-formed frontages radiating from Mount Egmont have more effectually resisted the erosive action, or washing of the sea (so powerful on the western coasts), than the softer clay cliffs to the north and south of the promontory, which are rapidly yielding to its force. Having reached the extreme westerly point of Taranaki, Cape Egmont, which is distant about fifty-five miles in a direct line from the mouth of the Patea, the direction of the coast line gradually turns, until it assumes a general direction of east-north-east, which it
New Plymouth In The Fifties.
preserves, with slight deviations, as far as Parininihi, or White Bluff, a remarkable cliff 900 feet in height, distant about forty-five miles in a straight line from Cape Egmont. From White Bluff, the general direction of the coast, as far as Whangaroa harbour, in the province of Auckland, is north-east. The town of New Plymouth is on the coast, about half-way between Cape Egmont and White Bluff; and its position is well marked from the sea by a remarkable group of rocks, lying within two miles of the shore, known as the Sugar Loaves. These rocks rise abruptly from the sea, all but one, Paritutu, or the Sugar Loaf, a small rock, which stands on a point of the mainland, and reaches a height of 504 feet. Several of these rocks are more or less peaked, or dome-shaped, but Paritutu is particularly conical, and affords an unmistakable land mark for seamen. The symmetrical cone of Mount Egmont, an extinct volcano (8,200 feet), is a striking feature in the landscape, from almost all parts of Taranaki. It stands in solitary grandeur in the centre of the rounded promontory, which forms the most westerly portion of the province. On all sides, for a distance of fifteen miles or more, the general slope of the land is away from Mount Egmont, so that the courses of the numerous rapid rivers, which reach the sea at different points on the coast line of this promontory, radiate from the mountain as a centre. The sides of Mount Egmont curve off so gently and gracefully into the general slope of the country, that, viewed from a little distance from the shore, it appears to rise from the sea, whilst the inclination of the land is scarcely perceptible in travelling over it (except by the courses of the rivers), until within about five miles from the summit of the mountain. On its north-west side, this regular formation of the country is broken by two mountain ranges, lying between Mount Egmont and the sea; namely, the Ponakai and Patua ranges, about 4,000 to 5,000 feet in height respectively. The greatest extent of level open land is in the south-eastern portion of the district, comprehending what is called the Waimate Plains, and this is separated by the south-eastern boundary line of the district, from a similar tract of land in the district of Wellington. Almost the whole of the open country in the district of Taranaki lies along the coast, forming a belt from the White Bluff to the Patea river, of an average width of four or five miles.