Tongariro – The track across Middle Earth

Tongariro – The track across Middle Earth

Nhauruhoe featured as the terrifying Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings movies. Although it is often referred to as a seperate mountain, it is actually one of the many cones of the vast Tongariro complex. With its 45 degree slopes and perfect triangular shape, Nhauruhoe is the most distinctive volcano-shaped volcano in the area – outshined only by Taranaki.

Tongariro Crossing

The Tongariro Crossing is a spectacular day walk in New Zealand, crossing 20 kilometres of steaming and colourful volcanic terrain from Mangatepopo to Ketetahi.

Volcanic unrest

But when I was there early 2013, the northern part of the track was closed due to Tongariro’s unrest and upheaval. The Te Maari craters near the Ketetahi end were still belching out fumes & smoke after their eruptions over the previous months in 2012. So it was only possible to do half the track, from Mangatepopo to the Red Crater and the Green and Emerald Lakes, and return the same way.

NaturePic Challenge – Mountains & Volcanoes # 6: Tongariro & Nhauruhoe, New Zealand

Mount Nhauruhoe, Tongariro National Park, North Island, New Zealand

The perfectly volcano-shaped Mount Nhauruhoe.

Green and Emerald Lakes, Tongariro Crossing, Tongariro National Park, New Zealand

Green & Emerald Lakes – the end of the track during the volcanic unrest early 2013.

Mount Nhauruhoe, Tongariro Crossing, Tongariro National Park, New Zealand

Mount Nhauruhoe and its colourful crater.

Giant Red Crater

At nearly 1900 metres, the Red Crater is the highest point of the route. When I approached it, I heard several excited exclamations coming from people further up the track. Once I reached the crater’s edge, I could see why. A stupendous gap laid in front of me, vividly coloured in all shades of red, with several ejection vents on the side and rocks & lava bombs scattered all around. It was so huge that the shouts of awe and surprise people were letting out when they saw it actually echoed off its walls.

Red Crater, Tongariro National Park, North Island, New Zealand

The stupendous Red Crater, triggering resonating exlamations of awe by all who gazed upon it.

Te Maari craters, Tongariro National Park, North Island, New Zealand

The fuming & smoking Te Maari craters, on the Ketetahi side of the track.

(c) Nancy Claus – Wilderness Coffee & Natural High

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