Danny Yee >> Travelogues >> New Zealand: Coromandel, Central Plateau, Waikato

Mangatepopo to Ketetahi Hut
the Tongariro Crossing

Sunday 20th February

The alarm woke us at 6 and we were soon packed and off. It was foggy, but some clear patches gave us views of Ruapehu as we headed out of Ohakune. We reached Whakapapa at 7.40, left the car, and caught the 8am shuttle to Mangatepopo; we were walking by 8.50.

It was an easy stroll along the flat to Soda Springs, where we made a quick sidetrip. After the climb up the Devil's Staircase, we had lunch under Mt Ngauruhoe (the Mt Doom of the Lord of the Rings films). We watched the people climbing it through binoculars and I thought about joining them but decided against it.

the top of the Devil's Staircase
inside South Crater

It was bright and sunny with some wind -- good walking weather. Crossing south crater and climbing up the ridge, we then went out a little along the side track towards Mt Tongariro.

Red crater
Emerald lakes
looking back at Ngauruhoe
Blue Lake

Then it was down the sand slope to the Emerald Lakes, along past Blue Lake, and down the endless switchbacks to Ketetahi Hut. We got in well before sunset, but it had been a long day and we were happy to stop.

sunset from Ketetahi Hut
The previous night (Saturday) the hut had been packed out, but now there were only five other people staying there (as well as the warden): two English geology students who were on exchange with Auckland University and had been at the hut for a week mapping lava flows, two Spanish girls (one with an injured foot), and a friend of theirs who camped. The hut warden was carrying out a "boot survey -- she only had two pages recorded so far, but I was most pleased to spot another volley wearer among them!

We had good views of the sunset over the nearby hot springs, and in the distance of Lake Taupo and the lights of Taupo.

The Tongariro Crossing is deservedly famous: it's one of the most spectacular daywalks I've ever done. If you do it in a day you have another two hours walking to get down to Ketetahi car park from the hut.

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