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Archive for 'Ruapehu'

New Zealand: Tongariro National Park

I thought I’d post a few photos of my recent trip to Tongariro National Park. It’s a beautiful spot in both summer and winter.

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This is a shot of me and the Overlander trainer at National Park township. It’s a very small place!

Formed in 1887, Tongariro National Park was the second National Park in the world after Yellowstone in USA. It’s a volcanic area with three volcanoes, which are visible for miles. Mt Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro are all active with the most recent activity taking place on Ruapehu. A lahar raced down the mountainside last year when the ice and mud surrounding the crater lake at the top gave way, spewing out mud, water and rocks. Luckily, there are warning systems in place and they worked to plan with no injuries or unexpected surprises.

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This is a shot of Mt Ngauruhoe, taken from our hotel, The Chateau.

During the winter months skiers flock to the park and there was still a little snow on the mountain tops, despite the fact we’d arrived on one of the hottest days of the year to date. It was so hot the road was melting.

We stayed in Whakapapa Village at The Chateau, a hotel at the base of Mt Ruapehu that has been a holiday destination since 1929. The Chateau is a grand old building that looks like a classic mansion, and apart from the added wing, I imagine it looks much the same as it did when it was first constructed. We sat in the lounge and gazed out over the tussock lands to view Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe. Mt Ngauruhoe is a perfect cone. During our visit, it appeared silent but I have seen it with plumes of smoke pouring out the top.

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This is a shot of The Chateau with Mt Ruapehu in the rear of the photo.

When I was twelve, we had a week long school trip and stayed at a motel up the road from The Chateau. During our visit, my friends and I sneaked into The Chateau and had a fine time playing in the elevators until unappreciative management kicked us out. Hey, we were country kids who didn’t see many elevators. Anyway, I made a point of using the elevators during our visit and took a perverse pleasure in it!

On our second day, we drove up Mt Ruapehu to The Top of the Bruce where the road ends. It was a gorgeous sunny day and perfect to ride the chairlifts. Once we ran out of chairlifts, it was time to use our feet. We walked until we reached the snowline. Thank goodness for sunglasses because it was very glary! After playing in the snow for a while, we retired to the café for a well-earned drink before walking the six kilometers back to the hotel. One thing I noticed was the bird song. I heard the native tui singing its guttural song and beautiful bellbird song. We took time to study the plants and admire the sweeping views across the tussock lands before heading back to the hotel for a long soak in the spa bath. I’ll admit I felt my muscles the next day, but the fresh air and fun we had was a good exchange for the pain of seldom used muscles.

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This is a shot of me on Mt Ruapehu. As you can see there was a bit of snow around.

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Here’s a shot of the mountain daisy we saw when we were walking down the mountain to the hotel.

The next day we caught the train back to Auckland, arriving home relaxed and refreshed.