Sep 20, 2010
Dec 18, 2011
That night we parked up in one of the free DOC campsites. We arrived pretty late but it was fairly empty so we found a nice spot away from other campervans. We were a bit surprised when we woke up in the morning to find a couple of German lads had arrived even later then us and decided to camp up right on our doorstep. Bit close for comfort boys.
Our next stop after New Plymouth was Tongariro National Park and this meant driving along the Forgotten World Highway, a very winding road through some impressive scenery and New Zealand farmland. The National Park is a really cool volcanic area with a group of 3 huge volcanoes rising straight out of a vast flat plain around them. One of them, Mt Ngauruhoe, is a typical cone volcano and was actually the one used to portray Mt Doom in the Lord of the Rings films. When we arrived there the mountains were all covered in snow following storms the previous week and although it meant they didn't look as Mt Doomy as in the films they were still very impressive. Our plan was to walk the Tongariro Alpine Crossing which is a popular trek that goes through the volcanic region but due to the snow, high winds and freezing temps that wasn’t possible. If we’d had our crampons from the ice climbing and a bit more experience we would have been right on it! We stopped for lunch (I’m turning into a tuna and cheese sandwich) with a great view of the mountains. We grabbed as many photos as we could and continued north towards Rotorua. On the way we stopped in at the Craters of the Moon, a region of geothermal activity, to have a look at the bubbling pools and warm ourselves up in the steam vents!