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

Egmont's Rival in the Philippines

Egmont's Rival in the Philippines.

An American traveller told a New Zealand interviewer lately that in his opinion Taranaki's seow-capped cone was more beautiful than Japan's Fujiyama, and that it had a better setting. It has been the fashion to liken Egmont to the Japanese holy mountain, and it is satisfying therefore to know that our lovely peak is the finer of the two.

But there is another peak in the Northern Hemisphere that more closely approaches our Taranaki snow peak's symmetry of figure. That mountain is an active volcano, Mount Mayon, in Southern Luzon, Philippine Islands. News came recently from Manilla that Mayon was in eruption, and that its lava flow had done much damage to the inhabited country on its lower slopes and around its base. Mayon was described by A. Henry Savage Lander in one of his books on Eastern travel as the most beautiful mountain he had ever seen; “Fujiyama,” he said, “sinks into perfect insignificance by contrast.” Mr. Landor's photograph of the volcano supports his praise. The peak goes grandly swelling up to a narrow crater summit just in the manner of Egmont, and curiously its altitude is only fifteen feet greater than that of our noble “Father of Taranaki” (Mayon 8,275ft., Egmont 8,260ft.). In one respect Mayon's outline is more shapely than Egmont's; its sides are unbroken page 35 by subsidiary lava peaks like Rangitoto (Fantham's Peak) on the southern slope of Egmont.

But Mayon lacks the crowning glory of snow, the “parawai ma,” as the Maoris have it in a song in praise of Taranaki's beauty—the pure-white robe of the finest flax. Mayon rises from near the sea, as Egmont does, but it is in the tropics, snow does not fall there, and so it never presents the picture of glittering icy beauty that Taranaki gives us. And, moreover, our New Zealand mountain, fire-builded but extinct for long ages, is a far more comfortable neighbour and overlord than fuming lava-spitting Mayon of the Philippines.

“Whose sun-bright summit mingles with the Sky.”—Campbell. An inspiring view of Mt. Egmont from Kaponga.

“Whose sun-bright summit mingles with the Sky.”—Campbell.
An inspiring view of Mt. Egmont from Kaponga.

A Red Indian legend, according to some American folk-lorists, declares that Mount Shasta was the first mountain made by the Creator, and that as the result of the extreme care taken in its building it was the pattern on which all other mountains were built. But the New Zealander may with greater justice claim that it is really his Taranaki which is the master-piece of all snow-capped peaks. It is far more graceful and shapely than even Shasta.