After days and days of rain, wind, snow, and freezing cold we finally caught a break! On Wednesday we decided to pack up the tent and stay in warm, cozy beds at the ski hotel up the road since temps were dropping near freezing at our altitude. That really enabled us to be fully rested for our hike. Friday ended up sunny, dry, warm-ish, and perfect for a long hike! Since the shuttles cancelled the day before to transport hikers to and from the trail, we drove ourselves to the starting point of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. The total length of the trail is 19.4km (12 miles) but we decided to do an out-and-back hike, again because no shuttle service back to the car.
Our hike took us along the base of Mount Ngaurahoe (pronounced Nara-ho-ee) and up, up, up to the edge of Red Crater. From the vantage point of 1900 meters we could see Crater Lake below us and Lake Taupo in the far distance. Our total hike out and back ended up being just over 12 miles and took us about 5 hours. We encountered a decent layer of snow cover once we reached an altitude around 1400 meters, which made for a slippery hike back down. We dressed in layers, including heavy winter coats, had our hiking boots on, and wore sun and eye protection. Michael forgot to put sunscreen on his face so his nose and cheeks got a little red!
For all you Lord of the Ring fans out there, Mount Ngaurahoe is the mountain used as the inspiration for Mount Doom in LoTR (with plenty of CGI thrown in of course). There was a side trail that took you to the summit of Mount Ngaurahoe, but with all the snow, we did not have the proper equipment (or skill) to climb the steep slopes in those conditions. Mount Ngaurahoe is actually what is called a “parasitic volcano” of the larger Mount Tongariro. The most recent eruption came from Mount Tongariro in 2012, while Mount Ngaurahoe’s last eruption was in 1977. A little further away is Mount Ruapehu and it lasted erupted in 2007.
We are so happy we waited out the weather and made it up as far as we did. Another bucket list item checked off!
Currently, we arrived today (Tuesday) at our Airbnb in Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand. Our ferry ride to the South Island is not until Thursday afternoon so we have some time to explore. One stop I need to make is to a camera shop to get the sensor cleaned. Dust specks are really annoying when I’m editing photos!! After that we are taking a tour of the Weta Workshop, which is the special effects props company used for movies like Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, District 9, and many more. A must-do in Wellington is to visit the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. It is the national museum and art gallery with all sorts of exhibits, but best of all, it’s free! And we love free stuff!
That’s all for now. I’ll keep you up to date with our travels through FB and instagram until I write Part 2 of our NZ Roadtrip!