Rising steeply, 8,320 feet above sea level, Mt. Taranaki dominates the landscape of this national park. It's difficult not to be drawn toward it. The lower reaches are cloaked in dense and mossy rain forests; above the tree line, lower-growing tussocks and subalpine shrubs cling to spectacularly steep slopes. Taranaki is the mountain's Māori name. James Cook gave it its English name, Egmont, in 1770, after the Earl of
Egmont, who supported his exploration. Both names are officially acceptable today.
Mt. Taranaki is notorious for its changing weather conditions, and many climbers and hikers are caught with insufficient gear. On a clear day, from even the mountain's lower slopes you can see the three mountains of Tongariro National Park in the central North Island—and sometimes even as far as the South Island.