One of the many things I love about New Zealand is easy access to (mostly) extinct volcanoes. They are always a challenge to walk up and reward with stunning views. There’s not many places you can take your regular run up a volcano, where they are a prominent feature in your harbour, or that you can take a boat or helicopter to land on one.
Mt Taranaki is New Zealand’s most iconic volcano, a 2,518m high monster (second only to Mount Ruapehu at 2,797m) which simply dominates the landscape. Watching the sunset on it from close to Pouakai Hut I felt in the presence of a massive object, which was endlessly fascinating to watch (and walk around and up).
White Island is an active volcano off the coast of the Bay of Plenty which can be reached by boat (which can be rough) or helicopter (worth it if you can afford it). Either way it’s unforgettable, even more so when you see the remains of where men used to live while mining sulphur from the island. It didn’t end well for them unfortunately…
Banks Peninsula is the remains of a far older (and definitely extinct) volcano, now a beautiful escape from Christchurch to visit the formerly French town of Akaroa, and drive the self explanatory Summit Road.
Tongariro National Park is home to three quite different, but all quite special, volcanoes. Ruapehu is the largest, and is the centre piece of the brilliant Round The Mountain Track, while Ngauruhoe and Tongariro are familiar to many from the super popular Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
I’ve written about Auckland volcanoes elsewhere, but here are three of my favourites.
Mt Victoria is home in my opinion to the most spectacular volcano views of the city, though there is plenty of competition. Here’s the view out toward Rangitoto, the newest and largest, which provides an iconic image for the city.
My local volcano, the beautiful One Tree Hill / Maungakiekie, forms part of my usual running route. Only in Auckland…
And as a bonus here’s what they look like underneath the ground, a lava cave literally in someone’s back garden in Three Kings. The roots of the plants above are particularly spooky.