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Published: February 2nd 2008
Tues 15th Jan:
Had a lazy day in Taupo today after hopping off yet another bus. Spent the morning exploring the town then had a late lunch before Chris arrived. Spent ages catching up with all the goings on from Gisborne. Another early start tomorrow so tried to get organised.
Weds 16th Jan:
Tongariro National Park and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing today. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing a world-renowned trek, rated as the best one day trek in New Zealand and listed by many in the top 10 day treks in the world. We got dropped at the Mangatepopo car park at 1000 and given 6-8hrs to complete the 18.5km trek....no pressure. I had already been warned by the guide that it's incredibly difficult if you have any knee problems and that expect pain for the second half of it, especially when going down hill, what great words of encouragement!!!!
So, off we trotted on a gentle incline looking for the various markers en route to check our timing. The main track continues up the valley following the Mangatepopo stream and around the edge of old lava flows to Soda Springs.
It was all going well until Chris and I reached
and began climbing the devils staircase. his section is steep -climbing from 1400 up to 1600 metres above sea level. This is one of the most challenging parts of the walk but we somehow managed to not realise it was the devils staircase (thinking it was further along!) Even though we knew they were doing work on it (and we saw men doing work on this particular area) we still didn't put 2 and 2 together........
So anyway, we slowly made our way up it, and I mean slowly, it was a killer! You are walking over layers of ancient and modern lava flows and other volcanic debits so the track surface is not smooth. We struggled on until we gratefully reached the South Crater. It is great to be on the flat, but once you have crossed South Crater there is another short climb on an exposed ridge. The track follows the ridge to Red Crater. You have spectacular views over the Oturere Valley, Rangipo Desert, Kaimanawa Ranges and down to the Emerald Lakes. They say it can be a little scary on a windy day, I think they need to omit the 'windy day' bit!
The descent from
Red Crater towards Blue Lake is completely crazy, as most of the track is steep and you are on loose scoria which means it moves under foot! You're basically ankle deep in scree and sliding down.......
To the left is an old lava flow from Red Crater spreading out across the floor of central crater and to the right are the Emerald Lakes. The colour is caused by minerals leached from the surrounding rock. The steam vents above the lake are responsible for the wonderful sulphurous smell. The track follows around the edge of Central Crater then climbs up to Blue Lake (A cold acidic lake). This lake is tapu (sacred) and it is disrespectful to eat or drink around its shores.
A short easy climb (at last) to the edge of North Crater, this was once filled with molten lava and then cooled and solidfied to give a level surface more than 1000m wide. There is a sensational change in scenery, we were lucky to have good weather and therefore spectacular views out over Mt Pihanga and Lake Rotoaira to Lake Taupo.
We then zigzagged our way down to the Ketetahi Hut which was really frustrating. You can obviously
or more comonly known as Mt Doom from Lord of the Rings
see the path from the top but by follwing the zig zag path, it takes forever, but we got there and took a short break. It was beginning to takes its toll so we headed off on the final stretch, to Ketetahi car park. The track crosses the stream that flows down from Ketetahi Springs where the rocks are stained by minerals in the water. We followed the poled route down through the open tussock land to the clearing with some seats but I thought if I sat down I'd never move again! At this point the track drops steeply to the Mangatetipua Stream. Again, this path seems to go on forever but after 7hrs we made it, exhausted but totally exhilerated!
Had to wait another 40mins for the rest of the group to finish then off to our lovely Park Travellers Lodge, situated in the heart of the National Park. With a hot tub on the grounds I decided to stay a few more days.
Thurs 17th Jan:
Had a very chilled day, watched some dvds, including my sky diving one again! Put the huge bean bags out on the grass in the afternoon and caught some rays,
tan can always do with a top up!
Fri 18th Jan:
Got up to do my laundry but couldn't find anyone around the place, it was eerie and like a ghost town..... Weather not so good today so pottered around until the next Stray bus arrived, nice to see some people again! Had to pack ready to leave again tomorrow.
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