Taranaki volcano is a 5 hour climb to the summit, and best done in Summer, so being the middle of Winter I gave it a miss.
Something closer, and less risky, right in town is Paritutu (153 m or 502 ft high). Its a volcanic plug, and predates Taranaki by 1.7million years. I
went to the local Museum and they have a feature on taranaki Volcanics. Apparently Taranaki grew and collapsed 3 times prior to the current shape it
Paritutu is a pretty steep climb, took me about 20 minutes, out of breath had to stop a couple of times.
From the top you can look down on a couple of other volcanic plugs, Moturoa (the pointy one) and Motumahanga (Saddleback) and a couple of other cones
sticking out of the sea, the islands together are called the Sugar Loaf Islands an are believed to be the remains of a ring fracture or feeders to
eroded volcanic vents, and are composed of a porphyritic hornblende andesite.
Here are a few "holiday snaps" of the climb and the view, although the holiday is only a break from work for a day.
The group of volcanic plugs
Paritutu from the base
the top half of the climb has a chain on poles you can hold onto to pull yourself up
view south from the top, thats the base of Taranaki under the clouds. Looks about the same as Mt Etna did when I went there in the 1980's
view north over the city of New Plymouth
looking down on Moturoa (the pointy one)
looking down on Motumahanga (Saddleback)
These volcanic plugs are quite common in the North of the North Island as well, up Whangarei way, erroded plugs everywhere, and also over in
Queensland, Australia too. Remnants of a section of the Australasian Plate that has changed considerably over time.
I keep one eye on the Taranaki area on my NZ Earthquake maps blog, its always active, but never anything serious, most of the bigger events are
offshore in the South Taranaki Bight. Activity the last few years seems the be concentrated in the Newall area to the West of the 'mountain"
Or for a quick look at recent Taranaki quakes here www.geonet.org.nz...