Mount Taranaki, or Mount Egmont, is an active but quiescent stratovolcano in the Taranaki region on the west coast of New Zealand's North Island. Although the mountain is more commonly referred to as Taranaki, it has two official names under the alternative names policy of the New Zealand Geographic Board. The 2518-metre-high mountain is one of the most symmetrical volcanic cones in the World. There is a secondary cone, Fanthams Peak (Māori: Panitahi), 1,966 metres (6,450 ft), on the south side. Because of its resemblance to Mount Fuji, Taranaki provided the backdrop for the movie The Last Samurai.
Taranaki is geologically young, having commenced activity approximately 135,000 years ago. The most recent volcanic activity was the production of a lava dome in the crater and its collapse down the side of the mountain in the 1850s or 1860s. Between 1755 and 1800, an eruption sent a pyroclastic flow down the mountain's northeast flanks, and a moderate ash eruption occurred about 1755, of the size of Ruapehu's activity in 1995/1996. The last major eruption occurred around 1655. Recent research has shown that over the last 9000 years minor eruptions have occurred roughly every 90 years on average, with major eruptions every 500 years.
In 1881, a circular area with a radius of six miles (9.6 km) from the summit was protected as a Forest Reserve. Areas encompassing the older volcanic remnants of Pouakai and Kaitake were later added to the reserve and in 1900 all this land was gazetted as Egmont National Park, the second national park in New Zealand. With intensively-farmed dairy pasture reaching right up to the mostly-circular park boundary, the change in vegetation is sharply delineated in satellite images. There are parts of the national Park where old growth forests are found.
The Stratford Mountain Club operates the Manganui skifield on the eastern slope. Equipment access to the skifield is by flying fox across the Manganui Gorge.The Taranaki Alpine Club maintains Tahurangi Lodge on the north slope of the mountain, just next to the television tower. The lodge is frequently used as the base for public climbs to the summit held in the summer months. The various climbing and tramping clubs organize these public events and provide informal guides.
For the average person, Taranaki would be considered a moderate mountain to climb. It takes a person with good fitness level a day to make the up-and-back climb. Weather on the mountain can change rapidly, which has caught inexperienced trampers and climbers unawares. As of 30 October 2013, 82 people have died on the mountain since records began in 1891, many having been caught by a sudden change in the weather. In terms of fatalities this mountain is the second most dangerous mountain in New Zealand after Aoraki/Mount Cook.