The previous attempts …

The initial idea of tramping over the Tongariro Alpine Crossing at dawn for a photo shoot started like most stuff from a casual conversation  . The usual ” thought – action – result ” thing going on . From my memory i think it came from a famous in National Park identity by the name of Spud . Its all his fault ! But i cannot blame him really … he just started things . Some-one had to ! Spud has by the way has gone and climbed Denali which is the highest mountain peak in North America at 20,310 feet . Awesome … and has also been giving presentations on his exploits with the funds from these evenings going to relief efforts in Kathmandu after the devestating earthquakes . Thats Spud pictured at the top . 

So we started this idea of trying for a dawn photo shoot atop Red Crater on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing . 

The first try really started well . Stars were out in National Park when we left at about 2am in the morning … good sign . The start of the trek was peaceful with no dramas . Wish that we hadn”t packed so much food tho . Never mind . The track follows a meandering route and some swampy areas which have boardwalks … the sound of running water was never far away from us mostly . This easier part of the crossing finished at a long drop toilet station which was a bit on the fresh smelling side . Never mind . The cloud was dropping but the thought was it should be clearing up higher … Next was whats called the Devils Staircase .

The staircase and onward …

Click on any image to see a large version …

The devils staircase part can be a challenge for the unready . Bit of a gut buster if you are unfit or carrying far too much stuff !! One step at a time eh ! . 

After a eternity the flat section of South Crater showed itself with patches of snow and a really stiff bloody cold wind thing going on . Layer up with more thermals is the answer …

A quick breakfast and on to the rim of red crater . 

Far out … what a stiff breeze and by this stage the dawn was showing itself thru the cloudy gloom . 

Bah …

So much for a nice sunrise ! The ground was covered in a hoar frost . BRRR ….

This was the extent of the brilliant sunrise at the top for the first go … it was a interesting passage getting over the top knoll i can tell you … ready to drop and crawl with the wind just grabbing at the gear we had on . 

Respite was quickly found at the Emerald lakes where most of these images were taken . From here it was a trek to get down out of the wind and cold . Next time then …

 

Crossing first go …


Emerald lakes ...Emerald lakes …

Phone camera shot … no time for the dslr . Phone camera shot … no time for the dslr .

The white stuff is ice ...The white stuff is ice …

Into the cloud ...Into the cloud …

Brrrr ..... Brrrr …..

The second try …

So … this time we started at about 2am i think . Started really well with a brilliant full moon . It was so bright and clear we could treck with-out our head lamps on . Yay . Ngauruhoe was clear all the way to the top . Stars clear as a bell . Awesome …

The staging point at the bottom of the main climb at the Devils staircase was still clear and good time was being made . A snack and on again to keep our appointment with the rising sun . 

Cresting over the climb to southern crater brought with it some cloud from the north rushing towards us . Hmmm ….

The walk across the flat crater was getting cloudier … headlights on . Gee its getting windy now . More layers !

At the edge of our next climb after the crater and man did that wind just come from nowhere and the cloud as well . Bum …

The decision to have a early break-fast was made to see what the weather was going to settle into … While we were waiting a solitary light appeared in the misty distance which got closer and closer to us . We were not alone ! In fact it was a intrepid hiker from  Germany who had the same idea as us  [ who is now one of my Facebook followers ] . 

Still again the mountain showed who is boss … and demanded respect . And respect given . Until next time for that sunrise as we departed back the way we came … oh well .

 

And again …


Being rained on  at South CraterBeing rained on at South Crater

The walk back down The walk back down

Misty ... really good for photography Misty … really good for photography

Coming down out of  the mist Coming down out of the mist

The devils stair-case ... good aerobicsThe devils stair-case … good aerobics

Boardwalk over the swampy areas Boardwalk over the swampy areas

Lower boardwalk . Note the red sediment in the water Lower boardwalk . Note the red sediment in the water

Third time lucky ?

The plan was roughly the same . Nearly a full moon . Waited for the day the forecasters gave some hope of a clear nite / day . Nice and early – 1.30am start in the morning  to be sure … 

Its almost  time to wear some red sox for good luck … but don’t have any anyway !

The start was good . Its funny how when you plan something so much that when you actually get on with it it is almost a relief of sorts . 

Some others who had the same idea of a dawn crossing rushed into the car-park behind us and started getting ready so we weren’t to  early then . They had the same idea . 

Yay … lets go !

Nice and clear , almost a no head torch morning . Clear as a bell . Stars by the million …

Staging point at the stair-case … still clear and still . Don’t want to hex it …

Up the stair-case … seems easier this time . Really romping along . Clear at the Southern Crater . It seemed like a huge amphitheater . Still snow on Moont Tongariro we could see … patches on Ngauruhoe still . End of crater and really clear , bit windy but so what . Up the next steepish bit where DOC has bolted some wire ropes and chains in to rocks on the steep ledges for something to hang onto … what a good idea as its a bit of a drop ! 

Up that climb and a ledge till top of Red Crater … the highest point of the crossing apart from Tongariro itself . Yay over the dome top and its really cold … just brass monkey time . Just AWESOME to stand here but need to get just over the top to where there is a fissure vent with warm steam coming out to find something to warm us before the sun makes its appearance . Just getting camera gear sorted and a whole bunch of people come piling over the summit with the same idea about some warm shelter and a sunrise . Really ! Looks like we are sharing our possie then . On one of the images you can see a flash light . That is some-one using their phone camera for a pre-dawn photo . Not sure how well that worked . 

Making images when your hands lose their feeling quickly tends to a problematic exercise but with all its taken to get here its a nothing really . 

Just absolutely awesome …  especially with family . 

Success …


Sheltering in the fissure ...

Dawn atop the Tongariro  Alpine Crossing . Ye Ha  . Taupo and the lake in the distance .

Long way down ...

On the way to Emerald lakes ..

Its all down-hill now …

I see lots of images from this place and around National Park thru social media and get a different view point every time . No wonder photogs keep coming back time and again …

The descent is so nice after the really bone chilling cold but guess what . Still see people in shorts ! What gives … must be some rite of passage or something … whatever !

Had some ideas of images  to make .. some worked , some not . Some will wait for another time . Already have some ideas about that … 

Amazing how you go from alpine environment with a smattering of plant life with yellow flowers  to tussock grasses to bush and stream as you decend to the carpark at the other end [ you start and finish at different points ] . Te Maari crater makes for a awesome sight and the evidence of that eruption can still be seen at the Ketetahi hut where the holes in the roof have been left unrepaired albeit covered with clear sheeting to weather-proof . The view to Lake Taupo on a good day is itself worth the effort . 

This place is very popular as a day walk and its a united nations with people from all corners of the globe . It is nice with the early start to miss the large groups tho … so peaceful . 

The gallery on the right  is a mix of dslr images and good old iPhone .

Don’t forget to enlarge them by clicking on any image . You can also scroll thru that group of images with the arrows  . 

Thanks for reading this little ramble . Hope i got across the trials and tribulatations . Methinks after all that it just brought on a bit of a life lesson about  ” intestinal fortitude with a huge lesson in risk management ” – and some other stuff !

Don’t let our experiences put you off doing the crossing . Its just a awesome hike .

Be prepared tho as it is alpine and is due the respect it deserves . 

Happy wandering …

Here is my original post about the first attempt . Methinks my writing skills have got some-what better i hope …

 http://www.muzzpix.com/a-tale-with-a-half-decent-camera-bag/

On the way down …


Ruapehu , Ngauruhoe and Red Crater in a row .Ruapehu , Ngauruhoe and Red Crater in a row .

Support crew ... Tim and Sean .Support crew … Tim and Sean .

Alpine plants flowering ...Alpine plants flowering …

Desert landscape .  Ruapehu , Ngauruhoe and Red Crater looking back from Blue Lake .Desert landscape . Ruapehu , Ngauruhoe and Red Crater looking back from Blue Lake .

Follow the poles ...Follow the poles …

The other side ...The other side …

Downhill ...Downhill …

Follow the leader ...Follow the leader …

On the track ... Lake Taupo in the distance .On the track … Lake Taupo in the distance .

Te Maari crater ...Te Maari crater …

Te  Maari ...Te Maari …