Published: April 27th 2012April 23rd 2012
23rd April ’12 From Waitomo to Okahune and the Tongariro National Park
Reluctantly we left the caves area, still wondering if we should do the Blackwater Rafting Caving and set off to the Tongariro National Park – home of Mount Doom no less!! Aka Mt. Ngauruhoe.
On the way we stopped off to see the Raurimu Spiral which was an engineering feat completed back in 1908 after 10 years work! . It is a railway line which spirals up through the countryside to get up the hills – Howard was very excited at the prospect of seeing this, so we walked up to the viewing platform – I even let him go first to get the first glimpse and saw…….nothing but the countryside!! Ha ha we did see the wire model dangling in front of the viewing platform which showed what it looked like, but try as we might we could not spot the train line! I guess if all the leaves had fallen off the trees maybe we might have or if a train had passed by but they hadn’t and didn’t so that was that.
When we got to the Tongariro NP area we had some
great views of the 3 mountains (Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe andTongariro) that make up the range and we drove up to the visitor’s centre at the base of Mt. Ruapehu. This national park was gifted to the people of New Zealand by one of the Maori chiefs as a way of ensuring the land was not carved up and settled by Europeans but kept whole and sacred, it is a world heritage site and a sacred Taonga with plaque commemorates this.
This park was used by Peter Jackson in the filming of the Lord of the Rings as the location for Mordor and Mt. Ngauruhoe starred as Mt. Doom – very exciting!!
Our first tramp (NZ for hike) of the day was uphill on the Ridge Track which led up onto the moorland with really good views of Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe, the weather was pretty good with only the odd bit of cloud blocking the peaks now and then. We then drove up Mt. Ruapehu to the ski area and the end of the road, it was really bleak and desolate with huge jagged volcanic rocks (but no Orcs).
We carried on to the small town of Okahune where
Tongariro National Park
Mt. Tongariro and Mt. Ngauruhoe
we were staying for the night which is located on the other side of Mt. Ruapehu. From here we drove as far as we could up the mountain road and stopped for the second uphill tramp of the day – to the Waitonga Waterfall, this was described in the guidebook as a more challenging track and that was putting it mildly! After a very steep, long uphill pull of 40 minutes complete with sections of steps designed for giants I thought I was going to die of a heart attack or lack of oxygen. We reached a flat open area with boardwalks across a sort of marshy expanse and a couple of pools where you had great mountain views, the path then started going steeply downhill again and I’m afraid I called a halt – the thought of trying to do another uphill stretch just about finished me off, we could hear the waterfall but never actually got to see it – still we’ve seen loads of others!
That night my bones were aching! We ended up with a revolting Chinese takeaway and have now decided Chinese food in New Zealand is just awful and to be avoided at
Tongariro National Park
Ridge walk and Mt. Ruapehu
24th April ’12 On to Taupo
We drove through the Tongariro NP and yet again had great views of the mountains, the weather was fab so we had yet another Mount Doom photo stop before we left the area.
We carried on to Lake Taupo and sat and ate our sandwiches overlooking the lake and the town, watching the sky divers coming down in the fields nearby. The town of Taupo was really nice, it was a reasonable size and actually had shops that were open and a fair few people around and about. The most bizarre sight was the McDonalds – it had a bright red full size airplane attached to the kiddies play area!
That night we went to the pictures to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and now I want to go back to India!! Also there were no adverts just a few previews – something we could do with copying back home!
There are more photos below