Wet and misty Tongariro Crossing

National Park Travel Blog

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In the hut

Both got up at 7am to check the weather forecast.  It looked cloudy and misty, and we had made up our minds that we weren't going to do the walk.  When we got to reception we were told that the trip was on, that it would clear up and we would have a good day.  We decided to go ahead and forfeit the winery.  We rushed around for half an hour getting all our gear together, and got on the bus at 7.45am.  As we neared the start of the walk, we still could not see anything.  At 8.30am we set off walking.  In the mist.  We were off first of the 20 people on our bus.  We walked along an easy track, feeling quite optimistic about the day, having been told that the mist would clear this morning.  After about 20 minutes it started to rain.

In the hut
  It was only a shower and we felt quite hopeful that it would soon start to improve.  After about an hour, we started to go uphil and it began to rain again.  This time combined with the wind, it was horizontal.  The mist showed no signs of clearing, the rain no sign of stopping, and as we got higher the wind got stronger.  We didn't stop walking (or at times staggering) at all, the weather was that bad.  As we neared the top (even though we didn't know it was the top) we held onto each other, fearful of actually being blown off the ridge.  Coming down off the ridge, we saw the Emerald Lakes through the mist, looking more ghostly green than emerald green.  As we came down, we saw a sign saying the hut was 2 hours away, so we focused all our energies on getting there.
At the end of the walk - the sun finally came out
  We made it in an hour and a half, and had walked four hours without stopping.  Diane squeezed out her socks and gloves, and we both poured the water out of our boots.  We couldn't get the heater in the hut to work, and we got quite worried at that point .  We were soaking wet, freezing cold and we had to shelter for the next one and a half hours in the hut so that we weren't hanging around outside at the other end of the track waiting for our transport.  We started to eat, shivering as we did so.  Gradually more and more people started to arrive, all of them looking as cold and wet as us.  Someone managed to get the heater working, and even though we were still very cold, at least this meant our feet didn't turn into blocks of ice.  Soon the hut was full and we began to realise that we were the only English people there.  Everyone else was German! 

Towards 2 o clock the hut began to empty.  As we were quicker that most of the other walkers, we stayed by the hater for as long as possible and were last to leave the hut.  Back into the wind and rain we didn't linger, and overtook most of the group on the way down.  The last part of the route took us through rain forest which would have been very pleasant (as would the whole walk) had it been a sunny day.  During the last 20 minutes the sun came out, and we arrived at the car park, wet and covered in mud.  We lay in the sun for a while waiting for the bus.  It was one of the toughest walkes we had ever done, not because of the distance or ascent, but becaus ethe weather had been so bad.

During the walk, we should have seen spectacular volcanic peaks, craters, hot springs and Emerald lakes.  We did get a sense of where we were, due to the occasional whiff of sulpher and warm streams.  At one point we could sense we walking across a big crater, and climbing out of it.  If we ever get the chance to do it again, we will not listen to the locals, but trust our own judgement.  If it is blue sky, wall to wall sunshine, and 25 degrees, we will have another go.

Never have a hot shower, good meal and bottle of wine been so appreciated.

If anyone wants to see what we should have been looking at click on the following link:

http://www.virtualoceania.net/newzealand/photos/volcanic/tongariro/

moorsideman says:
Can tell how damp it was, the picture's steamed up!
Posted on: Nov 25, 2006
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In the hut
In the hut
In the hut
In the hut
At the end of the walk - the sun f…
At the end of the walk - the sun …
National Park
photo by: Paulovic