National Park / Tongariro Crossing -
National Park Village -
Coordinates: 39°10′25″S 175°23′50″ E
Country: New Zealand
Region: Manawatu-Wanganui Region
Territorial authority: Ruapehu District
Named for Proximity to Tongariro National Park
The village has great views of Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngauruhoe (Mt Doom in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy), and Mt Ruapehu.
National Park is a small town on the North Island of New Zealand in the Central Plateau. Also known as the National Park Village, it is the highest urban township in New Zealand, at 825 metres and the gateway to winter and summer activities within the park.
"TONGARIRO ALPINE CROSSING, TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK, DUAL WORLD HERITAGE AREA, NEW ZEALAND"
the volcanic peaks of Ngauruhoe, Tongariro and Ruapehu clearly ensure the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is considered a world-famous trek.
its a One Way trek starting from Mangatepopo Car Park to Ketetahi Car Park in the Tongariro National Park, total of 19.4km with out any side trips and a time of 6hrs.
Highlights include steaming vents and hot springs, old lava flows, craters and stunning mountain views. On clear days you can see Mount Taranaki in the west, Mount Ngauruhoe, Lake Taupo and beyond.
Well for me this was a interesting turn of events and its often great being random and not having a fixed plan... I always had plans to visit part of the Tongariro Crossing but never intended to complete the whole trail. This certainly ended up being the DAY OF DAYS on my recent trip to the North Island of New Zealand.
I left my accomodation at the Tiny National Park Village that morning and set out to shoot a waterfall then make my way up to Mt Ruapehu base for a chairlift ride to the summit, I aborted that idea as it was too cloudy for such enjoyment. I then drove back down to the Ruapehu Village and wanting to shoot another Waterfall (Taranaki Falls) 1.5hrs oneway minimum, atleast 3hrs return. Nar I aborted that idea too and headed straight to
Mangatepopo car park, some 20 minutes away -
My initial idea was to just walk some 2/ 3hrs until some where near "South Crater" or atleast a view of it and then turn back and arrive at my car some 4/6 hrs later -
It was a classic New Zealand day, cool, low cloud, light winds and the look as if was about to rain. As I started at Mangatepopo it was just me and my camera back pack, no crowds - perfect just the way I like it. I gather myself and head off to Soda Springs, a little side trip to a small water fall. Just before i got to Mangatepopo Hut I passed who ended up being the husband and kids to the wife that was hiking the trail solo, we had a brief chat and he offered me a lift at the end of the trail and I thought nothing of it at the time and quite abruptly dismissed it.
Just passing Soda Springs is your fist ascent with switchbacks until you get up to the higher plane, it then plateau's out for a short while and rising again quite abrutly until you reach South Crater. Upon reaching South Crater the wind chill was out of this world, righto its time to put the layers and gloves. South Crater is a rather large open exspanse where it was level walking right to the base of your final climb of the summit at Red Crater - to the right is Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu, Left of South Crater is Mt Tongariro. With the moist weather moving in you could only see the cone shape of Mt Ngauruhoe in short bursts.
The end of South Crater to the summit of the Tongariro Crossing / Red Crater was a blustery affair as you get extremely exposed to both sides on the ascent and it becomes very soft under foot with a little bit of snow in some sections and a climb with a newly installed chain system .
About half way up I walked passed another solo hiker then at the second time when she caught me, I then asked her - do happen to be the wife of the "husband and kids" I met at Mangatepopo hut? She confirmed my thought and after a short chat then said the same thing the husband said - Yeah, you can jump in our 6 birth camper van and we will take you back to your car. As I was non committal in reality the further I walked up the final ascent and then went OH WOW at the 3 Emerald lakes below and down on the other side, there was no way going back and I was taking this lift back with a random stranger all the way from Melbourne Australia.
Once at the summit - YEWWW - what a view, straight ahead on the south side was Mt Ngauruhoe peaking through the clouds - and the red crater not looking much like a crater with the snow, to the opposite side and north is the Emerald Lakes disappearing in the ghost of cloud.
Thats where we are heading - down to the lakes in similar terrain under foot as the ascent.
We were down at the emerald lakes not before a few slips and slides and with steam rising from around our feet, makes you appreciate the volatile environment we are in.
Emerald lakes are beautiful and posed for a short Stop before heading off.
Not before long after the Emerald Lakes we hit a fairly long section of snow, we were to meet a large frozen lake on the right and a final rise over a small pass that got as back onto dry ground. After some time we eventually left the exposed south side and started to move into the grassy tussocks though our vision was extremely limited as you could not see anymore than a few meters in front of you due to the low pressure system moving in.
Eventually we made it to Ketetahi Hut and then our continued decent we finally reached the tree line where it was a 45 minute hike to Ketetahi Car Park - You will pass some streams and it is advised not to drink from them as there are minerals in the water which have stained the rocks, so I'd hate to think what it would do to you.
Fantastic we made the finish of the trek and the car park BUT NO Camper Van ? After a phone call the Husband was on his way from Whakapapa Village.
Sit back and Relax and share some Israeli Chai Tea from this Israeli dude - Yummo
What a awesome day of the unplanned -
Live your adventure
For more Information: http://www.tongarirocrossing.org.nz
Yours In Adventure
"This Blog is of the Opinion of my own Personal Experiences and are not necessarily Fact.. and is written to the best of my knowledge, but there may be omissions, errors or mistakes. This blog is for entertainment and/or informational purposes only and shouldn’t be seen as any kind of advice."
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