07 January, 2012

Bye Bye Holidays

It's Saturday, it's cold and rainy, and my parents and brother and sister-in-law have departed to drive around the North Island in a camper van, and to New York, respectively and the house seems super-quiet, except for Hazel and her friend Chloe playing My Little Ponies in the living room. Thank goodness for other only children who are equally bored on rainy days!

In between the beach and now I had a little adventure up on Mt. Tongariro in the middle of the north island. The Tongariro Crossing is a famous day tramp up and over a volcano (when it's not erupting) and it's also where they filmed the Mordor sequences of Lord of the Rings (a little known fact about me is that I'm a huge LOTR nerd). Classed as "challenging" I think I'd personally say it should be classed "if you are unfit and have bad knees just stay home" but hey, I did it when I was 12 so why not at 43? Haaaaahahahahahaha! Ahem. So yeah, it's been 3 days and my upper thighs have finally unclamped enough to let me walk normally and I don't shriek with pain every time I stand up and start walking. At one point going down the 50 million stairs at the end I actually stopped and had to work very hard not to cry with the pain in my knees and sheer exhaustion, but oh boy the adrenaline when you finish! The weather was pretty crappy and we didn't even glimpse Ngaruhoe or the main peak of Tongariro, though I knew they were up there in the clouds - but we got some exceptionally atmospheric views of ragged clouds and a blasted landscape so I guess it's amazing in all weather.

I'm currently planning a few projects to get started on, who knows if I'll get any time to sew with summer holidays for another month!

In the meantime here's some Tongariro crossing photos (google it if you want fine-weather photos, it's pretty freaking spectacular):

Looking down over and across lava flows (can you see those itty bitty people on the trail down below?)
Mordor, land of shadows

Tongariro crossing, looking into crater

Across the floor of the Southern Crater
South Crater

Descending from the Red Crater on Tongariro, the crater is on the right.
Coming down from the Red crater towards Emerald Lake

Coming down from Red Crater to Emerald Lake, Mt. Tongariro

We couldn't see the red crater for cloud but even the rocks along the side were pretty cool
Lichens on a rock at Emerald Lake, Mt. Tongariro

Emerald Lake at the bottom of that slope
Emerald Lake, Mt. Tongariro

Looking back to the Red Crater, you can see the trail going up the ridge towards the right, it skirts along the side of the crater.
Looking back towards Red Crater of Mt. Tongariro from Central crater

Some guys taking a photo break - and being photogenic in turn.
Tongariro crossing

Looking down towards the Ketetahi stream

Looking out over Lake Rotoaira to Lake Taupo in the distance. Taupo is a caldera formed by the largest volcanic explosion/erruption ever. And it will explode again at some point, some time. Wooo.
Lake Rotoaira from below Ketetahi Hut

Water drops on tussock grass
Grass in the mist. On the trail down to Ketetahi Hut, Mt. Tongariro


  1. Great photos!! This walk is on my 'to do list' some time in the near future. Looks like it's quite the popular walk!

  2. Love your photos. Looking into Instragram is on my list of things to do. You have inspired me.

  3. Amazing amazing amazing. I know I saw some of these on Insta - but in big (on the computer screen) they are more spectacular.
    Tonight Ari was asking Sam about amazing things he's done in his life - this sure if something to put on your amazing list! I think perhaps we'll have to take our kids there, so they have something to put on their list.
    but...... I'll heed your burning thighs and start walking (training....just general exercise really, let's be honest here!) or bike riding now in preparation. 50 million is sure a lot of stairs!!!

  4. Wow! looks amazing. great photos.
    I haven't done that walk since I was 14 and although I'd love to do it again, I can imagine it is super challenging. Makes my thighs ache just thinking of you coming up all that lava and down all those stairs and all that scree.
    Did Hazel come too? how did she go? apparently when my brother was taken over the crossing as a little tike he basically ran the whole way however my kids are not taking after their uncle with that level of athleticism so I think there would be a lot of carrying and whining...

  5. Oh yes, SUPER popular! I'm pretty sure there were at least a thousand people up there that day, if not a lot more. It kind of detracted from the enjoyment of the scenery and the whole 'being at one with nature' thing, but I must admit to being kind of glad of company right up at the top when I got a bit scared. I'm sure there are less-popular times to do it though, I'd definitely look into that if I were to do it again.

  6. Thanks! Highly recommend Instagram, it's a lot of fun!

  7. I'd actually consider doing it again, I might enjoy it a lot more if I knew what was coming (didn't remember it much from 12) and was even moderately fitter. And ok, perhaps I exaggerated about the stairs, it was probably more like 20 million. Or an hour of really steep downhill and stairs. Either one.

  8. There were quite a few kids doing it, and yes, they were bloody skipping about and running at the end curse them! No Hazel didn't do it, but there was a little girl about the same age with her parents and she was amazing! They did have to jolly her along a bit but not too much and she was a total trouper, even over the scary bits. I doubt Hazel would cope emotionally, but physically she'd be fine. She really wanted to go, but I'm sure an hour in the whining would have been appalling! Most of the kids were more like 10 or so, or maybe 8. I think Hazel and I would both have to get a lot tougher - her mentally and me physically - if we were going to do it again! Perhaps it should be a yoga mums holiday in a couple years ;)

  9. Wow, that looks like a fabulous walk.  I'd love to do it one day.  I can't believe I lived only an hour or so from there as a teen and never went there.  I can totally relate to the pain you are feeling, I did a big walk with the kids up to "Mountain Hut" one day.  I don't really do hills if I can help it, but have to say the downhill was a killer on the knees and hips for both DH and I.  Gorgeous pics !!

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