The many sides of Mount Taranaki


Hello and welcome to our newly started blog! From now on, we will try to keep the posts coming and add a new entry once every week. The articles you will find in this series will be mostly about our satellite images, such as background stories, interesting trivia and fan pics. You will also find news about exhibitions, sales, additions to the store, and basically anything we think might be interesting for you to know.

In today’s post, we want to share the story about one of our most loved poster motifs: Mount Taranaki.


Mount Taranaki is located in the south-west of New Zealand’s northern island (a bit confusing, right? just check the map!). It is one of the country’s most beloved geographical features. In fact, Kiwis are so in love with their mountain, they named the whole province surrounding it “Taranaki”.

In the following sections, we will tell you more about some interesting facts about Mount Taranaki, such as its Maori Legend, the Egmont National Park surrounding the mountain, its unique look from above and how the mountain became a star in a Hollywood blockbuster.


Referring to Mount Taranaki as a mountain is actually not quite accurate. In fact, Mount Taranaki is an active, but quiescent volcano (meaning there is still seismic activity and potential for an eruption) with two cones. The 2,518m main cone is considered one of the most symmetric mountains in the world. Its unique shape is also one of the reasons why we picked Mount Taranaki as one of our first six poster motifs when we first launched our poster store.

The first eruption of Mount Taranaki occurred about 130,000 years ago. On average, large eruptions occur every 500 years, while minor ones occur every 90 years. Researchers are warning that a large eruption is “overdue”, stating that major seismic activities are likely within the next 50 years.


Mount Taranaki is not only of interest because of its geological characteristics. The volcano also takes a central spot within Maori legend. According to the Maori, there used to be many mighty mountain gods residing in the centre of New Zealand’s northern island. Among them was only one female: (Mount) Pihanga. Pihanga was a beautiful mountain and all the other mountains wanted to have her for themselves, particularly Taranaki and Tongariro. A fight broke out between the two, in which Tongariro lost his head. The headless mountain god prevailed though, Taranaki lost the fight and had to flee westward. During his flight, he carved a deep furrow into the land – today’s Wanganui River. As the sun came up, Taranaki became petrified in his current position, close to the coast of New Zealand's northern island.

It is said today that when Taranaki’s peak is hidden in the clouds, he is crying for his lost love and when the sun is shining on his sides, he is showing himself to her in all his glory.

In the image to the right you can see what Mount Taranaki looks like when he is sad. Thanks to Ana for providing us with this pic she took on a flight to Auckland! Check out her great instagram account here: ontheinsideinteriors


So, on the one hand, Mount Taranaki is a volcano, and on the other a mountain god. In fact, there is a third dimension to him: Mount Taranaki the person (yes, you read that correctly).

Recently, Mount Taranaki was granted the same legal rights as a person, becoming the third geographic feature of New Zealand to be awarded its own legal personality. This step was meant to acknowledge the relationship between the mountain and the indigenous population, who view Mount Taranaki as ancestor and family member. Under New Zealand law, this legal personhood means that harming the volcano is legally the same as harming the Maori.


As we mentioned earlier, the main cone of Mount Taranaki is considered the most symmetric cone of all of New Zealand’s mountains and among the most perfectly shaped in the entire world. However, it is not only the shape of its cone that pleases lovers of symmetry. A view from above reveals an almost perfectly shaped circle, filled with lush, green vegetation, around Mount Taranaki. This geometric shape signifies the outlines of the Egmont National Park, which occupies an area with a radius of about 10km around Mount Taranaki. (Mount “Egmont” is the second name of Mount Taranaki, given to it by James Cook in 1770). Today, the national park is surrounded by farmland. The satellite image below gives us an impression of how the whole area of Taranaki used to look before humans started using the land agriculturally (source: NASA).


Mount Taranaki has even made it to Hollywood. However, this has nothing to do with the volcanos perfect shape, its legend or the fact it is considered a legal person. Instead, because of its resemblance to Japan’s iconic volcano Mount Fuji, Mount Taranaki served as a backdrop in the movie “The Last Samurai”, starring Tom Cruise. Indeed, several of the movies scenes were shot in the province of Taranaki. If you visit Taranaki these days, you will still be able to find one of the Tori gates of a Japanese village set in the northeast of the province.


After reading this blog post, it must become obvious to you why we chose this magnificent mountain as one of our first motifs. Indeed, when we started planning for our little venture, Mount Taranaki was the first name on the list of motifs we considered to offer initially in our store. It is only fitting that the Mounga, as he is called by locals, should be the first of our motifs to feature in this blog.

If you, like us, have been in love with this mountain for a long time, or just fell in love with it by reading this blog post, why don't you check out our store and see some of the ways you could bring Mount Taranaki to your own home!

We hope you enjoyed reading our first ever blog entry! If you are from or live in Taranaki, or if you have ever visited the area, we would love to hear your personal stories about Mount Taranaki, what connects you to him or what makes him special for you! Let us know in the comments!

If you want to get updated about our future blog posts, make sure to subscribe to our mailing list!


Motif (c) eoVision / Digital Globe

View of the entire Egmont National Park from above (NASA):

Info about "The Last Samurai" filming sites in New Zealand, (including image):

The Taranaki Mounga Project:

Guardian article about Mt Taranaki becoming a legal person:

Info for people interested in hiking in Taranaki by the DoC of New Zealand:

#MountTaranaki #Taranaki #volcano #NewZealand #EgmontNationalPark #satelliteimage #motif

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