I’ve been on holiday for the last few days, enjoying the last week of my three weeks off by taking a trip with my Mum and Aunty Linda to Taupo to have some volcanic adventures! The trip was amazing and we all had the best time ever… it was hard to come home but when I walked in the front door, saw my lovely KB, and looked around my colourful, happy little lounge, and saw Raymond on my (his) rocking chair, I felt pretty pleased to be back. I’m going to share some pictures of my trip today, which I hope you enjoy! But first, wow…. my heart is going out to all of the people in Queensland and Brisbane right now…. those floods, it’s just devastating and seeing the pictures makes me feel very, very sad. My dad told me that it has stopped raining now, what a relief, but I’m sure that like all of the other disasters that have been occurring worldwide in the last couple of years alone, that the clean up and healing will take a long time.
So my inbox was full today, with about a million-billion comments (thank you!!!!!) and e-mails, facebook messages, blog subscriptions from my fave blogs and many other things! I had only been away for four nights, and was amazed at all of the lovely comments people have left during this time! I’m going to love going to visit all of the blogs of people who have left comments! I had two particularly exciting messages in my box………
1. I won a giveaway!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wanted to win this giveaway soooooo badly, I asked the Universe… no… BEGGED the Universe that I get picked and I DID! The lovely Penny from Planet Penny which is one of my all time favourite blogs drew the winner while I was away, so make sure you pop over and see what I won HERE! And if you haven’t already, you’ll meet Higgins who is fabulously naughty but makes up for it with his cuteness…. Thank you Penny! I’m thrilled!
2. The lovely KJ Sunflower has started up a flickr group called Crochet inspired by Crochet with Raymond, the link to this is HERE and what an exciting moment as I clicked into this! Thank you Lovely! I’m loving seeing the pictures, and in fact, am getting inspired myself from it, so pop over and have a look! In fact, I’m going to do some emotional blackmail here, pleeeeeeeeeeeeease go and join this group so it reaches a reasonable size! hee hee!
So…. now let me tell you all about my trip! First, I suggest you have a veeeery quick look at this post and remind yourself of these beautiful volcano shots I took when I was travelling to Taupo a few months ago, when they were all covered in snow and freezingly beautiful! Remember it’s the middle of Summer here now (bliss!) and when my Mum and her sister Linda decided to do the Tongariro Crossing, I decided to come too, because if you remember, I love volcanoes and these three, Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro are three of the best! The Tongariro Crossing is described as New Zealand’s best day tramp, it’s a “challenging” 19km tramp across Mt Tongariro which I think is 1158m high if I remember from the guidebook! We drove up to Turangi on Sunday and on Monday the conditions were perfect for the tramp.
The pictures I’m going to show you are very special, because you can only see these views if you walk 10km up a mountain! I hope you enjoy taking the trip with me!
On Monday morning three alarm clocks went off at 4.45am, we got dressed in our tramping gear and packed our bags with everything from thermals, raincoats and lunch to barley sugars and even a flare (!) -My Mum likes to be prepared for everything, which makes her a great tramping companion!- We got picked up at 6am by a shuttle and driven to the foot of the mountain, and began our tramp at 7am.
At this point, there was low cloud, but by 8am it burned off in the lovely hot sun, by which time we were well on our way! The first hour is lovely and easy, it’s reasonably flat and the trail makes its way through volcanic rocks which are black and look a lot like coral….
We reached the first incline, called the Giant’s Staircase, which went up and up and up and up and up for about an hour, walking up through big boulders and up many flights of man-made stairs! We had forgotten our map, which didn’t matter as the track was marked, so we had no idea where we were when we reached the top of the first incline. At the top, we found a crater. Now, remember, these three volcanoes are all active, Ruapehu last erupted in 1997 I think, maybe 1996, and we were reminded of this by the steam coming through vents in the sides of the craters.
This picture shows the beginning of the first crater we came to. No words can describe what it felt like to walk through this huge, vast space… It was like being on the moon, right up high, away from all infrastructure, it was incredible. The mountain off to the right is the base of Ngauruhoe, the perfect, cone-shaped wonder that was covered in snow in my last travelling post!
At the edge of the crater, we saw teeny teeny tiny people at the top of this hill on the right…. that’s the crater floor we’re walking along, and if you care to zoom in close, you can see little ant sized people up there on the ridge…..
Well, we said, the book said “challenging,” and we’ll eat our lunch at the top of the hill!
The views were breathtaking, and when we were at the top of that incline, we discovered we still had further to go before we reached the summit! At this point the track had become very… errr… rugged, meaning there was no track, and it was along a thin ridge. Mum got what she called the “doo-daas” and like many others, didn’t want to go too close to the edge, because it was a loooooooooooooooong way down! So we walked up the last little bit to the summit, and the incredible views of the Red Crater.
Standing at the top of the Red Crater, looking in, I felt the biggest wash of deja-vu, and looking in, at such a wonderous thing, created by nature, I was blown away by the insignificance of myself and all of the other people, walking across this mountain, marvelling at it for just a fleeting moment. It was just amazing. Mum stood next to me and said… “you could knit that.” I looked at her and said… “What?” “Those colours” she says…”I could make some Tongariro Crossing socks….”
Aaahhh. She really is yarn crazy, and I now see that I am only on the very beginning of my decline into wool-madness. (I love my Mum)
At the top of the summit, when I could drag my eyes away from the Red Crater, I discovered the view of the Blue lake, another crater, which is, well…. see for yourself! Perfection!
The plan at this point, was to stop for lunch, but being at the very summit, we saw that we had an extremely steep climb down a slope covered in scoria. Do you know what scoria is? It is sharp rocky gravel that slides down with you when you walk on it! it took a little while to discover how to run down it, but once I worked out that you dig your heels in and run, I ended up at the bottom pretty quickly!
As you can probably tell by the adjectives I’m using in this post such as “breath-taking!” “Incredible!” “Perfection!”, I was pretty blown away by the scenery and the magnitude of the mountain. Well… the best was yet to come. The Emerald lakes are one of the main reasons I wanted to do the walk, to see these wonders up close. Full of sulphur, they are old craters which have become little lakes of the most incredible, amazing, perfect colour.
Do the colours in these lakes blow your mind? I was in awe of them, completely and utterly. We stopped for lunch here, to savour the view as much as possible…. Just to the right of the lakes, you can see there is a steam cloud coming out… we thought the lakes would be hot, as there are many thermal pools in this area, but they are in fact freezing, so no swimming occurred!
Onward we travelled, towards Blue Lake, making our way across yet another vast empty crater… it was at this point that I looked back and discovered that the summit, and the scoria slope were in fact the lip of the Red Crater, the centre of Tongariro, and I nearly started to laugh in amazement…. what a journey…. If you look very closely in the above picture, you can see teeny people coming down that veeeeeeeeeery big scoria slope….
We carried on past the halfway mark (Oh my, only halfway???!!!) up another incline, and stopped to admire the view of the three volcanoes, all in a row, a view you can only see from here,that is not visible from the road or any other point.
Tongariro, with the Red Crater is in front, Ngauruhoe with the perfect cone is in the centre, and Ruapehu at the back, still with snow on top despite the season.
We left this beautiful view behind, and began our descent down the other side of the Mountain. I’m not going to lie to you, this was the hard part for me. The first 10km, despite the climb I found easy, but coming down was tough! Not only were my feet getting a bit sore, I was also having a total fashion crisis because Mum was making me wear a cap with the “Dole” logo on it to shade my face because it was pretty hot, and I hate caps… When KB saw the photos of us she said immediately, “ooh…. you’re wearing a cap! Bet you hated that!”
I’m not going to show you a picture of me in the cap.
The views, despite the sore feet and lack of iPod, were amazing on this side too…. above is Lake Rotoaira in front and Lake Taupo at the back. Taupo is another crater, it blew the middle out of the North Island in AD 230…. apparently ash and dust spread for 80km and in China it was noted that there was an unusual glow in the sky at that time. Thats a pretty extreme eruption, and the lake is enormous.
We carried on down, and down…. and down and down and down, past the Ketetahi Springs which are more geothermal pools, now inaccessible as they are tapu (sacred) to the Maori…. you can’t see the pools but you can see the steam and hear them bubbling!
Do you know what? We had been on the mountain for about 6 1/2 hours before we came to a tree! A tree! It felt so unusual to walk past something living! What a strange experience! We finished the tramp with an hour of bush walking, which was blissful as it was 1.30pm and the sun was bright and hot….
I love native bush as much as I love volcanoes….
That last hour was the perfect way to end the perfect tramp… by this stage my legs were walking by themselves and I was visualising that moment when Ross the shuttle driver showed up to take us home for a nice big lie-down….
And finally we made it, and I felt like a million bucks. The sense of achievement was huge and the tramp, though not the largest, most difficult tramp ever, was life-changing.
The next day we took a trip into Taupo and I managed to get a picture of the mountains from the other side of the lake…
A few days later, I’m finally able to walk properly! Ha!
Well I hope you enjoyed that trip across Tongariro! My next big challenge is going to be Ruapehu… there’s a lake in that crater that I want to see! Tomorrow I’ll pop back with some lovely things I bought…as well as some crochet goodness of course too!
I’d better dash… KB and I have plenty to catch up on and Raymond seems to want to get on my lap… maybe he missed me! Maybe!
Have a beautiful day,
Lots of love from Alice and Raymond XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX