Hubby and I compromised on another hiking trip….half my usual distance and twice his! We planned to join up the popular tongariro northern circuit with the lesser known ruapehu round the mountain track, and we almost made it happen!
Day 1 – Whakapapa to Oturere – 24km
The advantage of starting at whakapapa is you miss the legions of day trippers hiking the tongariro crossing who start from Maungatepopo. On a busy day there can be 3000 people, most of whom are unfit, ill prepared and too many of them leave rubbish on the mountain (I picked up a lot). If you leave whakapapa late morning, by the time you head up the hill most of these guys are gone. It is spectacular!
After the stunning red crater (which one of the hikers described as an angry red vagina) and the gorgeous emerald and blue lakes, we descended to Oturere hut – a fabulous kiwi experience with 13 kids and 6 parents, and a few foreigners – rare these days. Graham the hut warden was a delight who regaled us with the joys of paekakariki.
Day 2 – Oturere to Rangipo- 23k
We headed off early and saw no one in the two hours it took us to walk to waihohono. Sections were quite eerie, like walking on the moon with Ngauruhoe glowing in the early morning sun beside us.
After breakfast at Waihohono, we left the northern circuit trail and wandered south towards ruapehu. There were some wonderfully hairy sections, my favourites being those with signs telling you not to stop in case a volcanic mud slide starts
We saw three people on the trail that day and arrived at Rangipo hut at 1pm to meet a lovely man and his autistic daughter who had been up for the night. He had told her Santa had left her some presents on the mountain and she had persevered up the trail to find the presents in the hut. Adorable!!!! They left and hubby and I had the hut entirely to ourselves so we lit a fire and enjoyed the view
Day 3 Rangipo hut to Ohakune mountain road
A glorious morning and a lovely undulating walk through the forest to Mangaehuehu hut. Three hours and not one person. We then headed out to Maungaturuturu hut hoping the rain would hold off
It was chilly but the views were stunning and all went well until the descent to Waitonga falls. In typical fashion I fell over on the well formed boardwalk part of the track. I roll my ankle frequently, but this time I managed to smack the bone against a rock. Ouch! I actually had tears in my eyes…
I got up and started walking hoping that would sort it out, but figured out pretty quickly that it was not in great shape. So we hoofed it to the road about an hour further on… weirdly I walk faster when I am in pain as I figure I may as well get it over with, so we overtook a tonne of day hikers on the way. Fortunately my lovely brother was in Ohakune so he came and picked us up and got us fully restored with cake, coffee and fritters.
We did think about trying to finish the route the next day but it turns out I wasn’t able to put weight on the foot until five days later! Next time!!!
More details on the walk here
February 1, 2017, Tongariro National Park