Mount Taranaki looms majestically over New Plymouth, on its own peninsula on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island. The mythical mountain is obscured from view most days of the year, shrouded by its low-hanging clouds. But now it stood there, clearly visible and beckoning in all its glory. I literally skidded to a halt when I saw it, and changed my direction there & then. It was calling me and I had to go. Mount Taranaki draws you in to explore its lofty top and many hiking tracks.
Nhauruhoe featured as the terrifying Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings movies. It’s one of the many cones of the vast Tongariro complex. You can explore Nhauruhoe and its surrounding area on the Tongariro Crossing, a beautiful walking track along 20 kilometres of steaming and colourful volcanic terrain from Mangatepopo to Ketetahi in New Zealand.
The Cook Islands are the stuff of Pacific dreams. White, sandy, coconut-strewn palm beaches, translucent lagoons in all shades of shimmering blue, and a laid-back atmosphere where everything just circulates on island time. But there are also craggy peaks beckoning in the interior of Rarotonga, the main island. You can discover them on the Cross-Island track, an adventurous hike across the jungle.