Tama Lakes to Whakapapa Skotel
Tongariro Northern Circuit
Tuesday 22nd February
We got up at 7am to fantastic views of Ruapehu, and we had breakfast outside so we could enjoy them.
The track was eroded and went up and down a bit, but was well marked, and it was overcast and pleasant walking. We took the side trip to Upper Tama lake, where it was very very windy, but a shelter of piled up rocks provided some protection. There were black-backed gulls around the lake — a long way from the sea!
Back on the main track, we were soon in a different landscape of dandelions and grassy slopes. Soon the fog was coming in above us and we started meeting daytrippers. We stopped briefly at Tamaki Falls.
We found a room in the Skotel, which was not cheap but was very convenient. We had showers, hot chocolate, and used the laundry and drier. An audiovisual display was ok, but (as usual) I would have preferred interpretive browsing displays.
Wednesday 23rd February
In the morning we drove up to Iwikau, where a helicopter was flying backwards and forwards moving building materials, and there were houses built on the lava flow.
After breakfast we extended our car hire, booked Auckland accommodation, and bought chairlift tickets. Camilla now rang home to discover that her father was in hospital, so our plans changed. Having bought the tickets, however, we went up the chairlift anyway and had a hot chocolate at the top.