Another early wake-up call, 06:20 the bus picked me and another 3 (what a surprise) Germans as part of a group to cross the Tongarririo national park. Well at least part of it. This is one of the great NZ walks and well-deservedly so. You walk 20km through really hard terrain, ranging from desert and volcanic fields, to lakes, green forests and snowy valleys. I am not kidding, it seemed to be like an all-in-one geographical and weather adventure. From T-shirts, sunscreen and hat to polar fleece and snow boots (of course I didn’t have) this was one of the most interesting walks I have ever done – and also one of the toughest. The photos will convince you about the beauty of the scenery and also about the well deserved reputation that New Zealand has, being one of the places with the most diverse landscapes.
Frodo was cool – Ze Germans less. I don’t understand how the Hobbits did it. Shorter, barefoot and with no proper gear the crossed these paths & valley to reach (I can’t remember what). In any case this is park is one of the backdrops for the Lord Of the Rings film with Mount Doom as its key feature. I didn’t climb it – I am sure the Brotherhood of the Ring is just fine. As numerous as the Orcs were in the film, were the Germans on the track. I don’t mind but it gets a bit annoying after awhile to be +10,000km away from Europe and hear “Ya” and “Genau” as every second word. The joke is actually on them, most of them are here to practice English…
The trek was wonderful. You start at one side of the park, and slowly make your way up to a path that has Mount Doom (ok I will call it like that) on one side slowly turns into barren volcanic scenery. Did I mention these are active volcanoes? Well if the images couldn’t convince me, the smell of sulfur (who farted?) and the snow melting & evaporating into steam water definitely did the job. You climb and climb till you reach a peak – wonderful views from both sides, lakes, crystal blue little lakes on one side and steam everywhere coming from the depths of the earth. Then you start your descent – one of the most tough parts as the ground is very loose, making you slip and slide no matter the shoes you wear. Into the valley, you get blasted from the freezing wind and realize you are in a snow covered plateau. Incredible change of scenery, all within 10 long and difficult kilometers.
As you reach the other side of the ridge, a wonderful view of the side of the island, beach, islands and wonderful clouds in the background welcome you to the most difficult part of your descent.
The land changed again from dry yellow bush and rock, to more dense and green, a real forest with a stream and waterfall. How can it all be here at the same place I wondered as I slowly made my way to the pickup point, incredible pain in my legs, wonderful satisfaction written all over my face.
Leaving tomorrow – next stop north, Rotorua…
One of the peaks! (I am blending in with the Germans - white socks pulled high up!)
Careful - GAS
Mount Doom, other side
Long trail - +5hrs - 20km
Steam! from the Earth's core the heat comes up, heats the lake water and... STEAM
Behind that mountain, above it and through the valley in front is where we walked
My Aussie hat, resting in NZ
Magnificent views before the tough descent!
All in a day's trekking: Volcanoes, desert, snow, lakes and forest