River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Grand Tour report

February 2004

A brief report from Alex & Lovell from their Grand Tour

Alex & Lovell's Grand Tour - latest update

The Tongariro Crossing

From Taupo we stayed at The National Park Village in existence primarily for the skiing in winter and then for tramping the Volcanic plateau in summer. The later being our purpose there.

An early bus dropped us off at the start of the Tongariro crossing. Despite the cloudy start, the weather forecast was for a fine day. We were in silent anticipation of the days walk, well prepared with plenty of food, water and our freshly dubbed boots.

It didn't take long for the tussocked path to become stonier and soon we were picking our own route through rocks following a stony stream. The scene was bare. There was very little vegetation and we half expected to turn a corner and see Gollum (from LOTR) talking to his reflection.

After an hour, the track headed steeply uphill. I found it quite hard going and used the rocks to pull myself up, taking frequent brakes to "look at the view"! Ahead, the clouds circled menacingly, hiding the distance yet to be climbed.

By the time we reached this point, the clouds had lifted and we were rewarded with the most fantastic view; The path we had walked, winding across the barren landscape beaded with a continuous trail of trampers and better still Mount Ngauruhoe looming above us. Having neither time nor treking poles we continued on the crossing rather than attempting to climb the volcano.

We walked across the flat south crater, comparable to the surface of the moon. We saw the amazing colours of the red crater and could see how the lava flow had stopped in it's tracks as it had cooled and hardened. Further on we saw thermal vents and had the same sulphurous stench as we had experienced at Rotoura, reminding us that we were walking across the saddle of an ACTIVE volcano.

Slipping steeply down very loose scree, led us to the Emerald lakes, (rain-filled craters) and later the mystical Blue crater (a cooled lava lake). We could empathise with the Maoris who hold the lake sacred as it is Rangihiroa's mirror.

From here the pathway zigzagged back down and gradually we returned from the lunar landscape to the grassy paths and finally to the rich green forest. In only a day we had experienced a totally alien terrain and only our dusty, dried out, stone-filled walking boots told the story.


Lovell Fuller

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