Crossing Tongiriro Makes it Angry

Trip Start May 30, 2005
Trip End Sep 30, 2006

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Sunday, November 20, 2005

I'd planned to take the bus right through to Taupo but decided to get off early at Turangi on the spur of the moment, and I'm so glad that I did. The Hostel 'Extreme Backpackers' (describes me to a tee!, not) was fantastic, friendly, comfy, clean, brilliant. They also had a climbing wall and it wasn't long till Joe my Dutch Roommate persuaded me to try it out.

It was great fun but my climbing ability has room for improvement, Joe described my attempt to climb a chimney section as "Like trying to get a sofa round a corner and through doors when you're moving house". Thanks for that. Joe on the otherhand would simply rush up each of the walls, just like a proper little spiderman.

The real reason I was here though was for the 'Tongariro Crossing', billed as the best one day walk in New Zealand. It's a 17Km trek that takes you through a national park containing three volcanoes, including Mount Ruapehu that erupted in 95/96. Another volcanoe in the park, Ngauruhoe, became a little famous when it was used as 'Mount Doom' in the Lord of the Rings.

Joe and I walked it together and started off at 8am when the bus dropped us off. We were quite happily wandering along when we got to a stage called the Devil´s Staircase, a very steep section. Somehow Joe was in his element here and just strolled up leaving me for dead. He would wait for me occationally before he was off again.

We decided to walk one of the the side trips, up Mount Ngauruhoe A.K.A Mount Doom. It´s a very steep walk up loose ash and rock, a bit like climbing a very big sand dune. We met some others on the way and climbed with them. Can you believe that at one point we had a serious conversation about how Frodo may have climbed it.
"Well, he was only small so this would have been harder for him"
"Yeah but he had big feet which would distribute his weight better and he wouldn´t sink in on each step"
What were we thinking?
Joe was just as quick on this section and would be waiting on a rock like Gollum (Arg, stop it!) for the rest of us.

The views from the hillside were perhaps the best yet. We managed to climb above the cloud line and you had the amazing sight of the surrounding hills peaking out above the blanket of clouds and beautiful blue skies above. This was simply stunning.

At the top I had a look at the vent spewing out how steam into the air, not getting too close though, burny burny. The view down into the crater was also one of the great highlights.

By the time we got back down to the track four hours had passed. It was supposed to only take 3 and we were now at risk of missing the last bus home. Time to get the head down again. Although we had to rush through the rest of the walk it´d been worth it. On the way we passed The Red Crater, The Emerald Lakes and The Blue Lake. Abstract naming doesn´t appear to be one of the Kiwi´s strengths.

We met loads of people on the way back having a short chat with a few of them, one of the girls that we met was from Brazil.¨
"Where about in Brazil are you from?"
"Sao Paula Region"
"Ohh really, I'm going to Campinas in a few weeks time" (A small town one hour from Sao Paulo)
"What! That's where I come from, Why are you going there?"
This is apparently a fair question as it's not a touristy town, but that's where my sister-in-law´s parents live and I'll be off to visit them there. This girl was just astounded and just asked me to say hello to her mum when I'm there, errrr ok!

As I said the Tongariro Crossing is billed as New Zealand's best one day walk. I can confirm that it's probably the best one day walk I've ever done, it was amazing. If you're in the area I urge you to do it, you'll not be disappointed.

I made a few phone calls to people back at home, using up the phone cards that I'd collected joining the YHA and BBH. I phoned my mate David (that I travelled with in China). He's getting married next year in Uganda after proposing to his girlfriend on the Great Wall of China. He asked me to be his best man! yeah! That means that I'm off to Africa after I get back next year. It'd be rude to just go there for a couple of weeks, I'm staying for 3 months. I'll visit Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia. It's a great excuse to extend my little jaunt around the world!

Next up - Aukland. I'm not staying long, in fact as little time as possible there.
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