Results 1-10of 13 Reviews
Cambridge, United Kingdom
September 2, 2010
From journal Around the world for a friend's wedding
April 30, 2006
From journal The Tongariro - 17kms and a Broken Toe
March 29, 2003
"The hardest hike I''ve ever done, but bloody well worth it," my husband said at the end of our 11-mile hike. We had climbed a quarter of a mile in altitude, but the landscape was otherworldly fantastic!
I. Mangatepopo Valley to Soda Springs (1.5 hr)
A bus picked us up at our hostel in Whakapapa Village at 7:30am, and drove us to the Mangatepopo trailhead. Unlike other hikes in NZ, this one was crowded. Herds of people headed across an open glacial valley at the edge of an old lava flow past tiny mosses, lichen, and red-stained volcanic rocks. Snowy Mt. Ruapehu loomed in the distance, quietly gurgling, secretly plotting its next explosion on the gray volcanic plain. After an hour, we crossed a stream and approached Soda Springs, where an optional short walk took us to a small waterfall.
II. Soda Springs to South Crater (1 hour)
The next hour was tough. We climbed straight up through a maze of massive boulders, stepping between and over rocks, our hearts pounding in our ears. We passed plenty of people perched on rocks panting for air, but small steps made it doable. Looking back, no trail appeared evident. Just jagged rocks jutting into the air with occasional heads bobbing up through the surface as people ascended. Relieved to be on level ground again, we agreed to skip the optional 3-hour trek to Mt. Ngurauhoe.
III. South Crater to Red Crater (1 hour)
The path became easy again–-flat and wide–-with mountains towering on both sides of the eerie, windswept valley. But after 15 minutes, we began another punishing climb up, up, up toward the ridge of the South Crater. A blustery wind blew, but clear skies allowed great views into the moon-like valley. People walked dangerously close to the edges, posing for photos.
A fine gravel scree made the subsequent climb slippery for some, but the sheer steepness winded me. At the top of the ridge, we stared into the contorted mouth of the Red Crater. WOW! Spectacular vivid red colors and dramatic black lines of a large vertical dike were crystal clear and remarkably close to the trail–-seemingly within a stone''s throw. Incredible, knowing yesterday''s hikers couldn''t even glimpse it through heavy clouds. Weather here can change instantly. Even now in full sun, the wind''s icy fingers shivered through my core. I hurriedly dug out gloves and fleece to pull over my tank top. Steamy sulphur drifted up from vents deep within the crater, enveloping us in its smelly cloud and leaving salty deposits on our skin.
From journal Tramping in Mordor... volcanic Tongariro National Park
Aberdeen / London, United Kingdom
February 17, 2002
The crossing offers incredible diversity as you pick your way through volcanic landscapes, alpine zones, geothermal areas and finally descend into primeval forest over the course of a few short hours.
I, along with two friends, tackled the crossing on a peach of a day and as the weather had been very unsettled the previous few days we thanked our lucky stars.
As a result, we were treated to some spectacular vistas with the Emerald Lakes in particular being the main highlight - as I recall three or four small crystal clear pools clustered together in various lucid shades of green. An ideal spot for much needed refreshments after the initial, harder than expected, assault up the Mangatepopo Saddle.
After the saddle and prior to the lakes the landscapes are truly 'not of this earth'. Mount Nguaruhoe (pronounced na-ha-roe-hay I kid you not!) is to your right, a smouldering cinder cone of a volcano. Climb it if you dare - you can, we were just too knackered after the saddle to even try!
South Crater is next - a completely flat expanse of barren nothingness. Truly 'Walking on the Moon'. This was welcome respite but it was not long before we started climbing again to Red Crater where steam rises out from fissures in the ground around you. Even Nguaruhoe itself seemed to be puffing away.
After all that had gone before, the walk after the Emerald Lakes soon gave way to alpine tussock and was therefore something of an anti-climax considering all that had gone before. The views, though, over to Lake Taupo and Lake Rotoaira kept us occupied on the descent down through the scrub and into native bush to the pick-up point on the Ketetahi Road. A truly exceptional day!
Word to the wise - this is an extremely popular trek and you do get the impression that you are part of some grandiose school day trip as walkers spread out single file along the track as far as the eye can see. This is not by any means a wilderness experience. To avoid the crowds either try and set off early (ie before 8.30am when the shuttle buses start arriving) or start mid-morning and perhaps stay a night at the Ketetahi Hut.
From journal Southern Exposure - A Year in 'Godzone'