Pip and I have now completed our two weeks tramping and have settled in to our accommodation at St John’s College Auckland – in the next few weeks we’ll share some photos of our experiences.

On the 15th Pip and I crossed over to the North Island on the Interislander, drove to Palmerston North to pick up son Matt and headed to National Park to check in to our overnight accommodation. The next day we drove to Whakapapa and began a four day tramp around Mt Ngauruhoe – the storied Tongariro Northern Circuit!

The first day was short and we arrived at the Mangatepopo hut just after midday. The route was muddy and rutted but it was so good to be out in God’s creation. The next day we followed the route of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing – up the Devil’s Staircase to a height of almost 1,900m. However the weather turned just as we left the South Crater and it began snowing with high winds. In just moments we were scrambling to put on raincoats, hats, gloves and pack covers. Some on the track were unprepared for the ferocity of the gale. However it stopped just as quickly as it began after about 20 minutes and the sun came out!

The walk past the Emerald and Blue Lakes was amazing! The track then led down a lava spur to a rough and eerie moonscape. We arrived at the Oturere Hut by mid afternoon. Later that night, well after dark, a family with two children under 10 arrived. They were doing the Crossing the next day – a long and very cold trip for them!

Day three led us further round Mt Ngauruhoe to the famous Waihohonu Hut – a beautiful replacement hut to one of the earliest back country huts in the country. We visited the original one the next day and learned about the early days of skiing in the area.

That night we met a very devout Roman Catholic who was keen to talk theology! His friend was a talented musician who had produced the NZ girl band TrueBliss in 1999 – this was his very first experience tramping. An enjoyable night engaging with some interesting people.

Day four was a relatively short hop of about 4 hours back to the car which was parked very near the Chateau at Whakapapa.

On the way we walked in to the Tama Lakes which were a beautiful azure colour. According to the local iwi – Ngati Tuwharetoa – all the lakes on the trip are tapu so it was not permissible to touch the water. It was marvelous to drive to our accommodation at Taupo for a shower, freshen up and then out for a meal!

Track Length: 45.2 km
High Point: 1886m
Duration: 3 nights and 4 days
Highlights: Enduring a blizzard, No blisters, Emerald and Blue Lakes, the beautiful Mt Ngauruhoe piercing the clouds.

More photos from our Lake Waikaremoana Trip next week!

Blessings, Canon Mark.