Panitahi-Fanthams Peak: Not For The Faint-Hearted

Without a doubt, ‘Mounga’ (“Mount”) Taranaki is the significant feature along the west coast of Aotearoa NZ’s North Island.  At 2,518 metres high (8,261 feet, for those of you who conceptualise accordingly), “Taranaki” dominates the skyline on all levels, and from all sides – as he should, really.

Māori lore recounts a “battle of all battles”, culminating in the “hiding of all hidings” – a gargantuan, terrifying, love- and lava-fuelled scrap between the two main heavyweight contenders of our fair nation’s northern volcanic landscape: mighty Mount Tongariro, and our boy, chiefly and majestic Mounga Taranaki (*read a suitably more fleshed-out version of events here, in one of my previous posts).

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‘He Tikanga Mō Te Taiao (“Earth Etiquette”) 101’: How To Save A Life

Last weekend I had the bloody time of my life ‘bush-craft training’ at the foot of the Ruahine Range/s with OTNZ.

And, the whole experience got me thinking about the kinds of things we do (or in some cases, clearly don’t (but probably should have)) to proactively keep ourselves safe outdoors.

Doing a fairly extensive “crash course” in ‘how to survive’ can certainly spark thoughts and memories regarding previous encounters with our Earth Māmā ‘Papatūānuku’ that were, in all certainty, dice-rolls and ‘lucky escapes’.

I’m sure I more than ‘hold my own’ in these terms, particularly as a relative beginner to tramping (3 years is sweet fuck-all, y’all), but I’m not so certain that this is the best, most learn-worthy approach to have, because what I’ve noticed more than these ‘moments’ are all the times I’ve totes smoked the ‘should be proud’ standard, too.

There’s a lesser peak that sits alongside Mount Taranaki, called ‘Panitahi’ (or “Fantham’s Peak”, after Fanny Fantham), and over Easter my mountaineering mate Mave and I opted to try climbing all the way up to the top.

Panitahi-Fantham’s Peak (1,966m)…

The weather forecast for our particular day described an initially rainy morning that would clear early-afternoon, potentially allowing us to ascend in the sun, the usual Mount Taranaki cloud-cover flowing in and out, as usual.

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