Tongariro National Park was established in 1887 making it New Zealand’s first national park. Today it is probably its most famous… & definitely its most spectacular. The park is dominated by three peaks, three active volcanoes: Mount Ruapeha, Mount Tongariro & Mount Ngauruhoe. In winter (the northern hemisphere’s summer) it’s a haven for skiers & in summer it’s a haven for hikers, offering some of the world’s best tramps, including New Zealand’s and possibly the world’s best one-day hike, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Today, day 65 of my present travel adventure, saw me tackling the crossing & of course I brought my camera & wide-angle lens with me.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing traverses some of the most spectacular scenery on offer in the Tongariro National Park; at its most memorable points it sees hikers cross an active crater, steaming vents & beautiful coloured lakes. The above picture is that of a hiker on the lower part of the crossing, an area of alpine scrub & tussock, with amazing views back to Lake Rotoaria & the southern end of Lake Taupo in the far distance. This picture was taken at 11am, about 3 hours into the 8-hour hike, shortly after the rain that I started out in had stopped & the clouds blocking my view of this scene up to this point had dissipated.
After climbing still further & leaving the alpine scrub & tussock behind, hikers enter a Martian-esque volcanic wonderland by skirting the left of the Blue Lake (top-left of the frame in the above picture). At this altitude the vegetation disappears altogether & underfoot is volcanic pumice, shale & dust. This picture was taken at the highest point of the Crossing, from the edge of Mt. Tongariro’s Red Crater (1,967m/6,453ft) which last erupted in 1923. In the distance the path I walked to get to this point can be seen (I hope), descending first from the Blue Lake before crossing the uneven central crater of Mt. Tongariro before a scramble up to the edge of the Red Crater, passing steaming vents & the Emerald Lakes, all of which are visible.
The above picture is probably my favourite capture of the day. The hiker seen here is dwarfed by the conical Mt. Ngauruhoe (2,287m/7,503ft), the youngest of the parks volcanoes & the only one of the three that actually looks like a volcano (& the reason why it was chosen as fictional Mt. Doom in The Lord of The Rings trilogy). At this stage, about 5 hours into the 8-hour hike, the crossing descends down to a valley hugging the base of Mt. Ngauruhoe – scrambling to its summit is a 3-hour if-you’re-fit-or-insane detour off the main crossing route.
The Complete Tongariro National Park/Tongariro Alpine Crossing Gallery
1. This dMb Photography Blog entry was filed as part of Mave On The Move, my March 2012 onwards travel odyssey. Click here to visit the dedicated travel page of my blog to see an overview of the trip.
2. See some of these pictures here as featured on the photography website RealPhotographersForum.com.