Tongario National Park
23.01.2014 - 23.01.2014
We left Blue Duck station in good spirits having enjoyed the beautiful scenery and were eager for our next stop which was the National Park where we could take on the Tongariro Alpine crossing, which is an 6-8 hour walk across a volcano plateau. This was going to be one of the highlights of our trip and would not only allow us to view crater lakes but would also take us past Mount Ngauruhoe which was used as Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings Movies. Woohoo!
Sadly, on arrival we were told that the crossing would not be possible due to the weather, not rain this time but the wind! The winds at the top of the crossing were gusting over 85km per hour making it too dangerous and as it was summer the walks are unguided and there was a chance you could get in trouble being blown off the pass. In the winter, when snow has covered the area the national park provides guides (for a fee of course) but in the summer this isn't necessary.
It was a big blow as it was one of the main things we wanted to experience as it was supposed to be one of the best walks in the world! Due to the somewhat annoying timetable that Stray has and the fact that it was the busiest month, we had no flexibility to stay another night and go the next day. It was a bit tough to take as we had previously been able to make decisions on our travels without the time pressure... But C'est la vie.
The national park is still a beautiful place to visit and the hotel we stayed at was very nice and so we decided to use the now unnescessary park fee to upgrade to our own room as we couldn't do the walk. Our driver explained that there is a shorter walk to Taranaki falls so after we had checked in and some of the others rearranged their stay to do the alpine crossing the next day we all got back on the bus and were driven to the Taranaki walk. The walk was signposted as taking 2hours round trip with the a Waterfall being the end point before turning back. So we headed off on our mini adventure.
Despite the disappointment of not doing the crossing the walk we did was still really nice, with some fantastic scenary and great company. Sarah was ahead with the girls and I decided to be photographer for the day and with the help of our Dutch friend Sally we managed to get some cool landscape shots.
Sally and I caught up with the rest and we were all rewarded with a cool waterfall.
We even got a glimpse of the alpine crossing mountain range that we would have passed on the walk and also the mountain that was used as 'Mordor', the lair for Saramon in Lord of the Rings Trilogy for those movie geeks out there.
Leaving the waterfall we set foot to path through woodland and passed over rivers all of which had similarities to walks back in the UK.
We had worked up an appetite and headed back to the hotel for some lunch, Sarah and I also took advantage of hot tub and the rest of the evening was spent in the bar. Good times.
Stay tuned for more tales.