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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 11 (March 1, 1929)


“The sentinel volcano stands alone. Sunrise is the moment to see him when his summit, sheeted with snow, is tinged with the crimson of morning and touched by clouds streaming past in the wind. Lucky is the eye that thus beholds Egmont, for he is a cloud-gatherer who does not show his face every day or to every gazer.”—The Hon. William Pember Reeves.

(By James Cowan.)

A Japanese traveller came to New Zealand lately, and the first place he made enquiries about was Mount Egmont, the Taranaki of our Maoris. He had heard that its beauty rivalled that of his own sacred mountain. And he was anxious to know from what point it could best be viewed.

The Japanese visitor had the soul of an artist and a poet, like so many of his countrymen. A grand mountain was a place to be approached with care, and something like reverence, so that it could come upon the vision for the first time in fitting surroundings, and from an aspect that would bring out to the full its beauty and majesty.

Such a mountain as Taranaki is not a mere pile of upheaved rock and earth, it carries to the imagination an impression of life and force, and especially so when one remembers its volcanic origin.

I shall always be glad that my first view of Taranaki mountain was unspoiled by a commonplace foreground. We had been eight days travelling through the King Country and the North Taranaki bush, carrying our swags over the rough trail—it was not even a horse track— that is now the Stratford railway connection route. On the ninth day we were mounted on horses, sent in to the head of the bush road to meet us, and up to within thirty miles of Stratford it was then all dense forest. All at once, as we came to the top of the saddle at Makahu, I saw a snow peak glittering in the mid-day sun, framed between the lofty trees; rising up, up in a glorious flashing cone; it was startling. I had never seen Taranaki before, and there was no thought of the mountain in my mind at the moment, so that it came as a surprise and a wonder; much as it would to a sailor sighting it for the first time some dawn a hundred miles out at sea.