Mount Taranaki looms majestically over New Plymouth, on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island. The mythical mountain that is obscured from view most days of the year, shrouded by its own 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 course and planning there & then. It was calling me and I had to go.
Mount Rjúpnafell is one of the steepest mountains in the valley of Thórsmörk. The hike to the top is quite challenging, but you will be rewarded with panoramic views of glaciers and colourful folded mountain ranges. There’s also a sweet litte river valley hidden along the track below its slopes.
Útigönguhöfði is that ridiculously steep mountain you see looming everywhere in Þórsmörk and on the way down from Fimmvörðuháls. It offers some of the best views across the valley. The impressive Hvannárgil canyon runs below its slopes and together they form a beautiful circuit. See how to get there, and combine this walk with Hvannárgil canyon or the lower part of the Fimmvörðuháls route. Be prepared for some serious crawling up the rocks on either side!
Eyjafjallajökull, the unpronounceable one, silently looming in the background. Nobody knew its name, or could even pronounce it. Until that day in April 2010, when it literally erupted into world fame, and stopped the whole of Europe in their tracks. Eyjafjallajökull rules them all.
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 see Nhauruhoe on the Tongariro Crossing, a beautiful walking track along 20 kilometres of steaming and colourful volcanic terrain from Mangatepopo to Ketetahi in New Zealand.
Mount Etna is Europe’s most active volcano, and it’s in a constant state of excitement. Often it’s just quietly steaming away, sometimes even producing pretty smoke rings. But when it erupts it can cough up large rivers of lava, fissure fountains, strombolian fireworks, fuming ash clouds and everything inbetween from its various craters.