National Park has a wealth of fun stuff for the outside adventurers . It seems that Natty Park has moved on from just a ski town and railway stop to adventure central being in the middle of the island. Handy.
I am not going to list it all , thats the job of the tour promoters. But will mention that there seems to be a lure of the mountains that brings people back...myself included.
One of the objectives for this stay was to try for a sunset at the top of Mount Tongariro looking south past Ngauruhoe towards Ruapehu with my trusty climb companion Tim. To get to Tongariro meant using the Tongariro Alpine Crossing track which for us is the fourth time that we have climbed this particular route.
For the start there is just this little shelter to walk thru...hundreds of thousands of hikers have started at the same spot. I wonder actually how many the count is so far....
Note; on any image just mouse click on it to enlarge. Even the ones in the carousel.
From the entry point at the carpark the track meanders thru a mix of old flows to swamp areas which are protected by board-walks to a staging point at Soda Springs where there is a gaggle of eco toilets. Best stay up-wind of that lot! And judging by the wire ropes holding them from bowing away there must be a occasional stiff breeze running thru methinks.
All the while you have the big fellow Ngauruhoe on your right getting ever closer and Tongariro on your left.
About now it seems that you are in a big basin. Next comes whats called "the devils staircase". A whole bunch of steps...lots and lots and lots. Did i say steps... but hey , this is the worst batch of steps going up on the crossing on this side anyways.
From here after all those steps you get this just awesome view back from where you came .
If you click on the image of me standing at the track edge with the blue pack you will see some of the steps of the devils staircase but also a view down the valley. On this side of the hill in the far middle distance is the carpark where we started from. To this point is about 6kms from the carpark.
From there is across South Crater and up towards the summit of the crossing at Red Crater but just before that we hang left towards our goal - Tongariro.
Bah... No sunset.
Oh well never mind. At least got a half decent shot of Ngauruhoe...so its not all bad then. Thats photoging for ya...
So...its never not worth it. Even after 10 odd kms return up and down in the dark.
Plan wise it would have been awesome as a full moon was rising behind us as we decended but that didn't work with all the cloud going on. But hey...thats just mountains. If you got upset with a little setback then you shouldn't go near them. Bit like motor racing really...your whole racing week-end could be scuppered by a $10 part breaking!
One thing about wandering around places like this is that it brings out your risk management skills...even on the crossing things can go bad...and in a hurry. It is a alpine environment after all. No trees and birds up there.
Always be prepared just like a boy scout...
Anything with a watermark can be ordered. Just give me a tinkle...so easy.