Out with The Mob: Tongariro Crossing
14-15 March 2009
For two days a group of thirteen of us swapped the gloom of the latest global crisis for endless blue skies, warmth and the spectacular bejewelled landscape that is the Tongariro Crossing.
With a near perfect forecast, the Mountain Shuttles were busy. The Mangatepopo road end was a-buzz with different accents, people checking gear, exchanging information, adjusting shoes; all anxious to set off on this ‘great walk’. Lining up alongside the tourists can be a curious experience. Having done this walk once before, our party had been pretty much the only group on the track. Admittedly it was in winter and long before the status of ‘Great Walk’. This weekend was quite different, and it was kind of fun to part of such a big group of international walkers.
Our group split at the saddle. Geraldine, Tiffany and Rita politely declined the offer of ascending Ngauruhoe and set off to conquer Tongariro instead. Josh, Jonas and Simon led the way up Ngauruhoe. Used as a stand-in for Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings, Ngauruhoe last erupted in 1975 and is New Zealand’s most continuously active volcano. The boys certainly managed to display the speed you’d need to exit this peak should it ever erupt - scree, snow and bum-sliding their way to the bottom in something like 20 minutes. And then they were off; we didn’t catch them up until evening. The rest of the party followed in dribs and drabs, perhaps taking the time to soak up the views and inhale the sulphur.
Enough gear was spread around by the girls at Ketetahi Hut to reserve us all a bed - good job as the hut was chokka. We then managed to spread ourselves around the deck and take in the last of the sunshine. Dinner was the usual headlamps staring into boiling billies routine. In a dimly lit hut, everything certainly tasted ok. Sunday was an easy walk down to the road end and we were all back at the Chateau by midday.
A great walk indeed. Even better when you get to enjoy it with such a great bunch of people. Where to next time?