New Zealand – Tongariro National Park and Whakahoro – Time for a bit of axe throwing and trekking at Mt Doom from Lord of the Rings.

Published: May 4th 2012
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New Zealand – Tongariro National Park and Whakahoro – Time for a bit of axe throwing and trekking at Mt Doom from Lord of the Rings.

After the adrenaline filled past couple of days it was time to head into the wild of the national parks for some trekking. We would first be heading to a cool little place called Blue Duck Lodge in Whakahoro or as its actually pronounced f*ck-a-whore-o which raised a few smiles from the English contingent on the bus every time it was talked about over the microphone. As the name of the lodge suggests you are often able to spot the very rare Blue Duck on the river here but unfortunately we didn’t see one, mainly because we didn’t have time to go to the river, doh!

We arrived around three o’clock and the more energetic amongst us headed off on a small trek to a beautiful waterfall, the others did what they liked doing best and preceded to kick off the drinking pretty early. Other than the above choices there was one other option whilst here and that was to go goat hunting. Three of the group opted for this and it was like a scene out of mad max when they returned. The 7ft1” crazy German guy in our group roared up on an oversized quad bike with a dead, gutted goat hanging around his neck!!! This guy was a nut case and this scene certainly upset a few of the girls in the group. This aside the goat hunting sounded like good fun and they all hit their targets and would be rewarded with a home cooked goat curry for their troubles. The goats here are actually a pest and are regularly hunted but the German guy in our group probably needs to realise that walking into a group of people with a dead, blood dripping, gutted goat around his neck is not the best way to make an entrance!

The hostel was really nice and the views were to die for but like all remote places there was not that much to do so we decided it was time for an axe throwing competition, it was good fun but much harder than it looks. After hurling the axes for a while we all headed to the kitchen for a bit of warmth and dinner before calling it a day. The next morning we would be heading to Tongariro National Park to hopefully complete the 20k trek that included climbing Mt Doom, the only drawback being we had to leave at 6am…….that’s an early start none of us wanted particularly those who stayed up drinking until 4am!

We had been told no one had been able to climb the mountain for weeks because the weather had not been good enough, but apparently the tomorrow we were meant to get perfect weather, so I think we all went to bed hoping and praying the weather gods would deliver.

6am the next morning we were on our way, as the sun was rising it became very clear we were gifted with some great weather so the hike should be on! As we arrived at the trekking office to pay our park fees we were informed about our good fortune and also informed how hard the trek is. I was listening but also thinking “yeah right it can’t be that though” well my arrogance was shot down in flames when for the first time in a long while on a hike I considered turning back. This certainly reiterated how hugely unfit I’ve become but it was also a bloody tough trek up Mt Doom. It was all volcanic ash and for very two steps forward you slide one back, as for coming down the mountain it was like surfing with huge boulders flying at you from all direction that had been disturb by those climbing above you. I’m pleased to say I made it up to the peak and as the photos will show the views were spectacular. I don’t think I’ve ever fallen over so much on a climb in my life, I think I spent more time on my butt coming down then I did standing up, but looking back it was great fun.

After making my way down and some 5 hours into the trek the next sign I was greeted with kindly informed me I still had 12k to go, happy days. There is no denying the trek is a tough one and the sun and heat were at times unbearable but it was a magical trek that seemed all the more rewarding because it was such a challenge. It meant only those who put in the effort got rewarded with the views, there was no easy way up such as a cable car or gradual track, it was either the hard way or no way at all so it felt great to complete it.

With a tough days trekking completed we all headed back to the hostel for the night and went straight to the bar for a well-earned pint before either crashing out or moving on to the hot tubs. I have to say the last couple of hostels were really nice and helped make up for the crap accommodation during pervious couple of stops.

So far in NZ it seems that everywhere I go the weather is falling just right for me and I have to say my overall experience really is getting better and better the further South I go, so by the time I hit Milford Sounds on the South Islands I’m expecting to be lost for words which I’m sure you will all be pleased about! Maybe it will just be a blog that says “Incredible” and nothing more. Until then it’s time to grab some much needed rest and crack on early the next morning to Greymouth and then Wellington for my last couple of days on the North Island.

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