GREEN SPOTS
EVGENY DEYANOV
GREEN SPOTSEgmont National Park
GREEN SPOTSThe Mãori, the native people of New Zealand, have a beautiful legend. Long ago, the Tongariro, Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Taranaki Mountains stood next to each other. One day, Taranaki fell in love with Pihanga. Her husband, Tongariro, found out about it and chased Taranaki away, towards the western coast of the Tasman Sea. Since then, it has been standing alone, and the Whanganui River and Te Ngaere swamp formed from its tears. Many years later, in 1770, James Cook named this mountain after Lord John Perceval Egmont as a sign of gratitude for his support and sponsorship of his sea voyages, and both of these names – Egmont and Taranaki – remain officially recognized today. In 1900, the New Zealand parliament decreed this area to be a national park. Egmont was partially compensated for its broken heart by a “career in Hollywood” – thanks to this New Zealand mountain remarkably resembling Japan’s Mount Fuji, it is, in fact, Egmont which we can see as a backdrop in the film The Last Samurai.
GREEN SPOTS
Egmont Mountain is actually a volcano, the age of which is over 120,000 years old, and its last eruption was in 1775. Many volcanologists think that the volcano is currently only sleeping and that it’s merely a question of time before it becomes active again. Egmont Park covers an area of 335 km². It has a very unique shape of a wheel with a diameter of 19 km and Taranaki Mountain in the centre of it – thanks to which it’s possible to easily identify it in satellite photos. Due to frequent and abundant rainfall, the park is covered in dense tropical forests where one can see rare species of beech trees. “Goblin Forest” is popular among tourists. Its name comes from the twisted trees which grow there, overgrown with thick moss. At a height of 920 metres, there’s a unique swamp called Ahukawakawa hidden beneath a thick layer of peat moss.
GREEN SPOTS
Of the animals in the park, the easiest to spot are bats (the only mammals here) and various species of reptiles (about 30 kinds), including the endemic tuatara. Flightless birds such as takahe, kakapo and kiwi are particularly interesting for Europeans. Numerous walking trails make it possible to select a holiday plan that suits every taste and physical ability. The shortest trail can last under half an hour, while the trail called Around the Mountain Circuit takes up to 5 days! Of the more accessible trails, those near Dawson Falls and Wilkies Pools are the most visually spectacular. Mount Egmont is an excellent place for beginner mountain-climbers. Reaching the summit isn’t difficult and takes barely 5-6 hours. However, one must watch the weather, which can suddenly change in this area. What can seem, at first, to be light snow can change in less than half an hour into a blizzard, or even hail. On the eastern side of the mountain there’s a ski resort, but it’s important to remember that due to New Zealand being in the southern hemisphere, the ski season begins in June and ends in October. Tourists who visit Egmont can stay in the park itself – there are several bungalows and tourist cottages available. Those for whom comfort is most important can stay in hotels in nearby towns such as Stratford, Opunake, Hawera or New Plymouth.