Trip Start Aug 11, 2010
48Trip End Aug 05, 2011
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Eventually the weather cleared, and we shot down to Tongariro on the Friday, ready to tackle the crossing the following day. First however, there was a small matter of some sort of wedding going on back home? Mel had phoned ahead and told the campsite/motor lodge that she was booking the telly in advance, but we got there nice and early so we could bag our place and channel! With sparkly wine and chocolate cake we watched all the BBC coverage with a random assortment of travellers from across the globe; explaining why Beefeaters wear those hats, who is who in the Royal Family, heckling Posh Spice’s awful dress, spotting the ugly bridesmaid, finding Huw Edwards has got more Welsh since we’ve been away and introducing them to Filthy Fearne Cotton all provided an endless source of entertainment for the evening! They all seemed to be taking the following day’s walk a lot more seriously than us though and went to bed early missing out on the parade through the city
Luckily we were blessed with a fine day for it; clear skies, warm enough to immediately strip from five layers down to three and no real ice or frost – hooray! We set out about 8am and were dropped at the foot of Mt Ruapehu and spent the next seven hours making our way up and past Mt Ngaurhoe to the peak of Mt Tongariro before descending into the valley behind. The walk is consistently voted one of the top one day treks in the world and we understand why – it was just staggeringly incredible! Tramping through Tongariro is like touring through a post-apocalypse version of earth; the first third of the walk is a climb up the debris spat out by the three volcanoes over the last however many millions of year, surrounded by brooding, smoky peaks with a smattering of snow. The volcanic landscape is barren yet full of fascinating shapes and strange formations and types of rock, and the atmosphere has a real sense of foreboding despite the sunny day. All in all, it is completely perfect for the starring role it had in Lord of the Rings – the area of Mordor! You may recognise the pics of the perfect cone of Mt Ngauruhoe by another name…Mount Doom, and it definitely lives up to that name! I wouldn’t have been surprised to see alien creatures bouncing around here, let alone orcs, goblins and dwarves, such is the lunar-like oddity of the landscape. As we climbed higher and higher we started to realise the weather hadn’t been as kind as we thought it had from the more sheltered plains; we were hit by gale force winds that actually pebbled dashed us with little chunks of rock and sand
When we finally reached the highest point of the track we were met with one of the most striking, bizarrely beautiful sights we have ever seen. In full technicolour, widescreen and HD we looked out over the ominous lava flows of years gone by, spread out far below us were the ethereal yet poisonous green waters of the Emerald Lake, smouldering nearby were fumaroles in the rock, to the right was the angry fire tinged Red Crater and in the distance the Blue Lake shone like a mirror. We stood to take it all in and our jaws dropped open…and were of course filled with sand and dust as the wind gusted at around 50mph! To get out of the wind for lunch we decided to shelter by the Emerald Lakes, but to get down we had to negotiate a steep slope of loose scree and shingle. Mel was in her element after years of geology field trip geek gatherings and shot off down it, and after stopping to remove ash from up my nose and taking a few pics I followed five minutes later
After I was placated by soup from our newly purchased Thermos flasks (yep, we are officially getting old!), sarnies for lunch and chocolate for lunch pudding we plodded onwards over the crater formed by an old eruption before passing the Blue Lake and moving out into the valley beyond for the descent through fields and forests. Our escape from Sauron’s clutches was pretty much complete; we were out of Mordor and hightailing it towards the Shire! By this stage we were getting tired and my hamstrings took a great dislike to going downhill, give me uphill slog any day of the week! The last three kilometres were a bit of a chore but we emerged out eventually, sore and shattered but with massive grins – top day!
After a quick stop in Wanganui we made it down to Wellington a couple of days ago and have continued the LOTR theme a bit further with a visit to the very cool Weta Cave. We saw a lot of the props used on the films, weapons, armour and the like and met a couple of life sized models of various scary creatures! We also checked out the perfect details on the miniatures made for long shots, not to mention a host of other films they have been involved with