There is a rumor that Mt. Taranaki is going to be used as the Lonely Mountain in The Hobbit. It’s no rumor that it stood in for Fuji-san in “The Last Samurai.” It’s an amazing mountain.
I know because I’ve seen pictures of it. But we never saw it in it’s glory on our 3 day hike of the Pouakai Circuit; instead we walked through rain and hail and wind and even some occasional sunshine.
The weather was bad enough on the second day that I didn’t even take my camera out. We were all fairly wet and muddy but some hot tea and many hours of Catan made for a great afternoon once we reached the Pouakai Hut.
The huts were wonderful; warm, cozy, and dry. Even with 12+ hours of drying by the wood fire, some of our clothes remained wet. Discomfort and hypothermia weren’t the only dangers, though.
There are tales of flesh-eating snails that haunt the hills. Apparently, in the early 20th century a circus elephant escaped a nearby event and wandered to Taranaki. Legend has it that its chewed up body was found months later, covered in flesh-eating snails.
Luckily we avoided the crawling little beasts and suffered from nothing more than too much couscous for dinner.