Tongariro Northern Circuit
Nora and I headed north on a fine day to National Park YHA. We booked in and sorted our gear, went to the pub before heading to bed. Up late as it was a short day’s walk, ate breaky and headed to the Whakapapa carpark. There was a stiff cold wind, so on with the coats and packs. Off we went with a skip in our step. It was good to be on our way. We were heading for Mangatepopo Hut. It was pleasant for a while once we warmed up. With the volcanic blasted view.
As we walked along, rain appeared followed by sleet and snow. We picked up our pace and were soon in Mangatepopo Hut fiddling with the heater. Once going we relaxed to reading our kindles and relaxing while our clothes dried off.
We woke to a bright and clear day. We packed and headed up the valley. As we went we passed guided tours. Up we went and into the snow. We walked along the south crater which glittered and sparkled in the sun on a warm and windless day. We headed across the crater and donned our crampons, got out our ice axes and headed up the ridge to the high point of the crossing.
After having a good look around at the staggeringly good view, we headed down the snow slopes to the Emerald Lakes for lunch. Sitting in the warm sun watching the vents release steam, I looked over my shoulder and realised big clouds were approaching.
So we headed down the east side snow-covered ridge into the valley. We plodded along heading for Oturere Hut. Half way there, the snow arrived and for some time visibility was poor, luckily the snow eased a little and we sped our way amongst the snowy moon-like landscape until we reached the hut. The fire was lit, cups of tea drunk and out came the kindles again. We had a lovely warm night while it snowed outside.
The next morning after a sleep-in we headed out on a cold but clear day. We walked into the teeth of the cold wind but as the walk progressed it swung from the south to the west and the bad weather start to stalk us. As we got from the forest the rain almost got us but we beat it to Waihohonu Hut. What a palace it has been turned into. No firewood or heating at this hut though, so it was an early night.
The next morning it was raining hard so we hung around as it was a clearing forecast. Eventually we put on our over-trousers, coats, hats and gloves, and headed out. As we reached the old Waihohonu Hut it started to pour. We sheltered and waited for the worst of the rain to pass. Then headed back into a stiff very cold head wind. Every now and then it rained heavily, sleet and snowed, freezing us now and then. We passed the Tama tarns and headed over the to the west side of the park.
Eventually the shiney people passed us going in the opposite direction; we realised we must be nearing Whakapapa again and sure enough in 30 minutes we were standing back at the car. We headed back to the YHA and stayed the night before heading back to Welly but not before chocolate eclairs and a giant bag of carrots. What a great tramp!
- Party members
- Nora and Stu Hutson (scribe).