Fanny Fantham was a high spirited teenager with a zest for life. In March 1887, Fanny was in a large climbing group ascending Mount Taranaki. Climbing was hot and difficult for the women in the group as they had to wear full street dress, which included long dresses and corsets. But Fanny had shortened her dress and was wearing lace-up boots that made climbing easier.
The nineteen-year-old girl and five men were climbing the route between the Kaupokonui and Kāpuni gorges, ahead of the main group, when they reached a subsidiary peak known to Māori as Panitahi. The group were in high spirits. According to Fanny one of the climbers said "I don't think this peak has been named". Turning to Fanny he said "You are the first woman to climb it – let’s call it Fanny Fantham's Peak". "No" she replied, "That's too long". "Then Fanny's Peak”. "No, that's a name any peak might be called. Who knows how many Fanny's might be climbing". Eventually, after much bantering, the group decided on using Fanny's family name of Fantham for the peak. Speeches were made and the peak was christened with a sprinkle of water.
Fanny didn't continue on to the summit of the mountain, despite the fact she was wearing less restricting wear than the other ladies in the group. In fact, she revealed years later, she was never to climb the mountain again.
Fanny married in 1888, becoming Fanny Bayly. She and her husband farmed in Manaia. The couple moved to England and during World War One, Fanny worked in a munitions factory before nursing in an army hospital. Returning to New Plymouth years later, Fanny was made an honorary member of the Mount Egmont Alpine Club in 1928. She died in New Plymouth aged 82.