Anytime we have the opportunity to visit Tongariro National Park it is looked forward to at least a month beforehand. This is partly decided by the availability of our fav book-a-batch but this time it was totally booked up so had to make a change around  but ended up all good.

Usually we plan a tramp where we haven’t wandered before to create new imaging and try a new challenge. So this time it was up whats called ‘Hardmans Ridge’ which for us the start and finish was the carpark for the start of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Its best to have some one drop you off so thats where family are very handy.

After starting there its up to Mangatepopo hut which is a small way up the crossing track and to the left. Going around the hut its down across the Mangatepopo Stream and up the sidling to reach the start of ‘Hardmans Ridge’. From here we were to follow the ridge line in almost a direct line towards Tongariro summit but before the base of Tongariro we followed GPS cordinates running on a gentler line to the north until we reached a small flat crater to the north of Tongariro. By this stage , about 5 hours or so, looking at the steeper climb over the volcanic rocks to the summit and approaching sunset a deviation to the Emerald Lakes on the crossing track was  deemed a better solution as we were a bit over scrambling up lose rocks etc. Bah to that. Even so it was still some cross country down a gully and across another crater to get to the lakes. Most of the tramping so far was over volcanic rocks which dont make for the best hiking with a decent pack with camera gear on. And was  also was voted the bunny of the day when muscle cramps did their thing just betfore the lakes so some hasty water drinking to rehydrate was in order.Gee that really hurts like crazy. Pity didn’t have any electrolytes. Have remedied that issue for next time.

Dinner was had at the lakes- some stew and potatoe with strawberry ice cream for pudding. Amazing what you can get with dehydrated meals.

To get back to our collection point at the carpark mean’t now climbing Red Crater which is 190 meters of scrambling up what seems like a loose mettle dump. Nearly blew a valve on that one… After summiting Red Crater – that sounds silly – its a wander in the park all the way down. Actually really pleasant as it was so still, totally dark with no moon light and nobody to be seen. Awesome…

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This image is a screen shot from my phone with the GPS hiking app that we use to track our route and also to double check where we are in case the weather closes in and visibality becomes non existant. Very handy. You can see our track where we deviated from the crossing track at Mangatepopo and up the ridge which isn’t named on this map as its all off trail. Actually it makes  a nice round track appart from ‘Hardmans Ridge’  which lives up to its name…

The view of Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Ruapehu from Harmans Ridge about two thirds of the way up. You can see the lava flows on the side of Ngauruhoe and also the alpine plants are just fantastic. You really have to not step on them…

A panoramic made of the lower Emerald Lake just after sunset with the sunset glow still going on. You can make out the Alpine Track on the centre left heading into the distance which up to a thousand people give or take hike every day if conditions are right. Not much growing here…

One of the Emerald Lakes looking back at the steep ascent we made to the top of the Red Crater at top right. The whole thing is like climbing up a big mettle pile…two forward and one back. Phew…

From left to right the first two are  bush scenes from National Park. Next is the Mangawhero Falls on the Turoa skifeild access road and lastly the Mahuia Rapids. 

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