Furing the summer months, Mount Taranaki stands naked, a solitary peak painted grey and brown with a slight shade of green on its lower slopes.
Once the first southerly blasts through in April or May, it turns into a magical winter wonderland that, at times, extends to below the ring plain of rainforest and onto the neighbouring farmland.
Like a magnet, the three sealed roads that end in carparks up on the mountain play host to a constant stream of visitors to an alpine experience of ice and snow on our back doorstep.
Snow fights abound while snowmen appear in various states of creativity. My own personal favourite activity is walking the various loop tracks that radiate from the carparks. The Goblin Forest is my favourite. The addition of snow to the fantasy look of the moss-covered trees is a special treat and not to be missed.
For the ultimate winter experience on the mountain, an overnight stay at either the refurbished Ngati Ruanui Stratford Mountain House or the Dawson Falls Mountain Lodge. Alternatively, there are freedom camping sites in the carparks.
If ever there was a defining photograph of spending a day on Mount Taranaki in winter, it is the sight of cars emerging from the rainforest at the bottom of the mountain with a snowman on their bonnets.