Dreaming in New Zealand: Tongariro NP

New Zealand’s North Island is a fantastic place for anyone looking for vivid contrasts and drastic landscapes. One moment you see lush, fantasy-like green hills and the next you face snow-covered dead-zone volcanoes. It’s like this place was made for everyone to enjoy in their own way. It definitely fits my taste!

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From lush, green hills to Tongariro National Park and Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This hike is considered one of the most beautiful walks in the World and one of the top attractions on the island.

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Majestic volcano in it’s full glory in the early morning hours. Also it’s probably the only time to take a good look at the mountain without cloud cover.

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A view through a bus window. There is a bus that takes the walkers from National Park village to the Alpine Crossing entrance. Booking is easy through numerous websites.

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Crossing the mountain took me about 6 hours and I am glad I started it early in the morning (cloud-less views and amazing sunrise behind the volcano!). 20 KM walk up and down the mountain was pretty exhausting and I think I rushed it a little bit considering I have managed to take like a million pictures there.

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Here it goes!

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The morning was fairly cold, only to get a bit warmer when the Sun went up to get colder again at the higher altitude.

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The clouds in the background make the horizon look like a sea.

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There is plenty of rocks lying randomly in the field – all those are the results of many eruptions.

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The volcano itself is rather active and erupts every couple of years.

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The views are pretty rough but beautiful.

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The wooden walkway helps to maintain the area unspoiled but also makes the walk a bit easier and guides through the field.

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I wouldn’t like to be here to witness the rocks falling from the skies…

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This is how Mars would look like in person, I guess?

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Mt. Taranaki majestically sticks out of the clouds.

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This climb reminded me of Mt. Fuji a little bit. Not as steep or long, but certain aspects were very much alike.

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Toilets ๐Ÿ™‚

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Splendid views from the top towards Mt. Ngauruhoe.

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Up again we go. At this point I had to take a longer break. It took me about 2 hours to get there and it was mostly uphill.

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I could not stop taking pictures of this view. I think it will end up being printed and hang up on a wall somewhere ๐Ÿ™‚

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Nearly there at the highest point of the trek.

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Not the best shoes for hiking…

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At this point the volcano cone started to hide behind clouds. This was the last moment I had a good view of it.

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Red Crater. Not too red in the picture because of the weather and lack of good light. More like dark brown?

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A bit more red here.

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Here we are at the top! From this point onward it’s (mostly) only way down. Easy, but also dangerous as the volcanic ash is very loose and it make it easy to slip.

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A bit hazy here.

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Famous Emerald Lakes. I was lucky as the Sun came out for a few moments allowing me to enjoy the spectacle of light and clouds in an amazing setting. A million same’y pictures to follow!

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Some tried to be creative.

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This slope was more steep than it looks. Blue lake in the background.

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Selfie is a must! ๐Ÿ™‚

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The brilliant-green colour is caused by dissolved minerals washed down from the Red Crater.

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Open plains in the background. This is looking the other way from where we came from (we as me and the fellow climbers who arrived on the same bus).

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Red crater looking up.

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The ground breaths. I bet it’s got a bad, sulfur breath…

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The colours of the main lake were amazing in certain lightning conditions. Swimming would be dangerous but damn the lake looked so inviting!

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Looking at the lakes from across the fields (which is also the Central Crater…). You can see the path leading from Red Crater. Look closer and you can notice small dots – those are people walking across. You can imagine the scale of this place…

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Looking at Central Crater. This is one bizarrely shaped snow cover!

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And behind we have another lake, called Blue Lake.

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Toilets again ๐Ÿ™‚

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Someone needs, but do they must?

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The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is not dangerous, but there is certain locations where caution is recommended.

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Hello buddy!

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The views on the other side of the crossing.

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The weather started to improve as we walked down.

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I think this is one of my favorite pictures. This is still an active area. The water below is black.

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Lake Rotoaira.

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There were groups of people who started the trek from the other end. I honestly felt sorry for them… at this point I was pretty exhausted.

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The area around volcanoes past the dead zone has very rich soil. Also the humid conditions make it perfect for plants to grow and shine.

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Not a very comforting sign.. but I guess this are is dangerous on rainy days.

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How close the steps are to the water. I imagine there is no way down here when the water is bigger?

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And the same place – picture taken with a longer exposure.

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I made it to the bottom. All safe and sound ๐Ÿ™‚

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I wonder if any cow has ever fallen off those slopes? Anyway…

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Thanks for stopping by!

Adrian