Mt. Doom and Mordor

Trip Start Jan 12, 2008
Trip End Oct 01, 2008

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Friday, April 4, 2008

Up and ready to go around 5am, we head to Tongariro National Park for what is supposed to be one of the best hikes in the world.  The Tongariro alpine crossing passes over Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Tongariro used as Mordor and Mt. Doom in Lord of the Rings.  The lunar-like terrain is clearly the result of the volcanic eruptions and the 19km hike is perfectly challenging.  The views are beautiful but slightly lessened by the cloudy skies.  Even still, I am in awe of the active volcanoes, mountain springs, lava flows, volcanic desert, emerald-colored crater lakes and horrible gaseous sulfur smells!  I keep one eye on Mt. Doom and throw a rock as far as possible into the crater from the top.

Back at the carpark by 2:30pm and start the 4-hour drive south to Wellington through some army training areas and more beautiful vistas.  I make it into Wellington at 6:30, just in time to make it to the toilet before I almost pee my pants and find accommodation before sunset.  I go out for a bit, but make it an early night after exploring most of downtown Wellington by foot.  It seems like a fun yet slightly sleezy place and I don't feel like I'm missing much when I hit the bed around midnight.

Of note: Tonight was the first time that I shared a room along my trip.  I looked around at a few places and everything was booked between the big rugby match that I missed (as it took me a while to find a room) and a few conventions that booked the capital city.  Anyways, I wind up in a 4-share room at a hostel with 2 guys from London and one from South Korea.  Everyone seems nice enough and I really don't mind sharing my room as much as I had presumed I would.
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