TONGARIRO. April 5 & 6, 2016.
2 full days left in New Zealand. I have been watching the weather forecast all week. It hasn’t been great lately but my last day here is looking to be perfect. And the day before looks pretty good also. I want to hike as much as I can in the little bit of time left.
The morning started out mostly clear. The 7:30 am shuttle bus took us out to Mangatepopo and the start of the Tongariro Crossing. The wind made it cold but it was uphill so I knew I would warm up. Plus I had plenty of warm clothes with me.
By the time I got to the turnoffs to climb Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe (Mt Doom in Lord of the Rings) I couldn’t see more than 3 meters in front of me. That made the decision easy. I skipped them both. The Red Crater was completely hidden in the clouds. The Emerald Pools were less than stunning.
I waited around for awhile but then left. It started to clear up and I contemplated turning around and hiking back up but didn’t.
I ate lunch at Oturere Hut and just as I was finishing Pauline from France walked in. She was northbound and our paths had crossed 2 months prior on the day before I crossed the Rangitata River. We had shared a night in Manuka Hut. Now we had the same destination for the end of the day, Waihohonu Hut. It was really nice to catch up with her and compare the last couple of months. I just love how thru hiking so often reunites you with people you thought you would never see again.
The end of the day lighting on the mountains made everyone in the hut run out into the cold.
I woke up to brilliantly clear skies and hoar frost on the ground. It would have been a chilly night in my tent.
I had several options for the day…. 3 different ways back to a road. I needed to get back to Lake Taupo because I had reserved a bus to the airport from there tomorrow. I decided to retrace my steps back to the top of the Red Crater to see what I couldn’t see the day before. Then I walked out to the car park at Ketetahi which would complete the Tongariro Crossing. I hadn’t hiked that part before and the hitching should be the easiest from that carpark.
The air was so crystal clear that it felt like I was part of an Apple Retina screen.
I wanted to climb Doom but I was worried about how easy it would be to hitch back to Taupo. So this is as close as I got.
The Red Crater was magnificent. I couldn’t even see it the day before.
I walked out to Ketetahi carpark which is to the left, past the lake in the distance.
Looking back at what I had just hiked down.
It’s a long way down to lake level.
When I got down to the car park I didn’t even have to stick out my thumb. 2 guys asked me if I needed a ride. They were going to Lake Taupo also so it was an easy, one ride hitch.
What a perfect last 2 full days in New Zealand.