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Mount Taranaki. The 2518 metre high mountain is one of the most symmetrical volcanic cones in the world. The mountain has two cones. Panitahi, 1,966 metres (6,450 ft), is on the south side. Because of its resemblance to Mount Fuji, Mt Taranaki provided the backdrop for the movie, The Last Samurai


Maori legend: Taranaki once resided in the middle of the North Island, with all the other New Zealand volcanoes. The beautiful Pihanga was coveted by all the mountains, and a great battle broke out between them. Tongariro eventually won the day, inflicting great wounds on the side of Taranaki and causing him to flee.

Taranaki headed westwards, following Te Toka a Rahotu (the Rock of Rahotu) and formed the deep gorges of the Whanganui River, pausing for a while, creating the depression that formed the Te Ngaere swamp, then headed north. Further progress was blocked by the Pouakai Ranges, and as the sun came up Taranaki became petrified in his current location.

When Taranaki conceals himself with rain clouds, he is said to be crying for his lost love, and during spectacular sunsets, he is said to be displaying himself to her. In turn, Tongariro's eruptions are said to be a warning to Taranaki not to return.

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Mount Maunganui.

Maori legend: There were once three mountains that lived in the Kaimai Ranges looking over Tauranga Moana. One was Otanewainuku who still stands there today, covered in beautiful trees where many birds make their home.

There was also the female mountain, Puwhenua; she wore the finest ferns and smaller trees of the forest.

The other was a Maunga Pononga, the mountain who had no name.

The nameless mountain was in love with the beautiful Puwhenua but Puwhenua had given her heart to Otanewainuku. 

Heartbroken, the nameless mountain could see no choice but to put an end to his misery by drowning himself in the ocean, Te Moananui a Kiwa.

Maunga Pononga called on the patupaiarehe - the people of the night - who had magical powers, to weave a magic rope and help him to reach the ocean.

The journey began with chanting and slowly the nameless one was dragged to the ocean. By that time the sun was about to rise so the patupaiarehe fled back to the dark depths of the forest, leaving Maunga Pononga stranded.

As they left they named the mountain Mauao, which means ‘caught by the morning sun’.

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