Tongariro National Park

I’ve always loved the sight of snow covered mountains, steep terrain, crystal clear Rivers and you don’t need to be a mountaineer to feel that way. Nadine and me were both excited about leaving Great Lake Taupo behind and visiting New Zealand’s oldest National Park. This park does not only feature ski fields and superb tramps but also geothermal phenomena. The three highest peaks Mt Tongariro, Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngauruhoe are all active volcanoes. Two of them erupting last in 2012.

A short drive brought us to the end of Mangatapopo Road. From here, hundreds of trampers each day start New Zealand’s most popular day walk, the Tongariro Crossing. The ‚Crossing‘ would have been our choice as well but we hadn’t booked a shuttle in advance. So we just decided to walk the first part up to the Southern Crater and to the peak of Mt Ngauruhoe, which by the way was used as Mt Doom (Schicksalsberg) at the end of Lord of the Rings.

Tongariro-Crossing-Map-Aug-2012

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The actual climb up to Ngauruhoe summit was the most exhausting thing I had done in a while and we took longer than the signposted three hours return. The hard bit about this was that the slopes were not only steep as, but covered with volcanic ash and loose rocks. We sank in and set loose rubble with every step.  We stumbled and scrambled up, ready to give up and turn back a few times. The views on the scenic surroundings kept us going.

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In the end we made it up to the snowy top of the volcano and dared to walk a few more steps to the exposed crater edge and there was our reward: a fantastically beautiful but also intimidating view into the gigantic crater.

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What goes up must come down! The first very steep section was a bit of a scramble again, but we decided to use a riskier but much quicker way down: so we put on our rain gear and slid down one of the the snow fields on our bum. Fun! Fun! Fun!

On the following day we visited Whakapapa Village in freezing temperatures and went up to the ski fields for a quick look. We would have loved to get on a snowboard but the weather was nasty as predicted (glad, we hiked on the day before) and the lift passes were too pricey for us as well. Winter sport is one of the things we’ll do when we get back to Europe.

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Thanks for reading. Hope to hear from you and your adventures.

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