Following post kind of explains itself as it's taking place on new years eve and new years day of 2016/2017. A lot to write about this so i need to split my Tongariro visit in a couple of posts, more to come.
The last day of 2016 we entered "Lord of the rings" country - Tongariro National park, where Mt Ruapeho and Mt Ngauruhoe is located. Ngauruhoe acted as Mt doom in the "Lord of the rings" movies. Our aim was to do almost the entire Round the mountain track counter clockwise and Tongariro alpine crossing, part of the great walk in Tongariro. Roughly 90 km in total.
The alpine crossing is usually done by 1500-3000 people a day, which is a bit much if you're a hiker used to have the mountains for yourself. Lucky for us, other people like to spend New Years in town, celebrating with family and friends and not in a tent on a trail close to a mountain in firework shadow. A shadow only if the mountain itself is not erupting since it's an active volcano, but then it would probably be the last fireworks of your life. But man such Fireworks. Anyway, we met a couple of hundred people going down from the cool area on top where all the funky stuff are, from now on called the funky plateau. Once we got above the saddle to see the beauty, we shared it with two American girls who only went to emerald lake and then returned.
That was pretty awesome to be honest. We rounded up 2016 in the somewhat unique way of being the last humans of this year to summit Mt Tongariro, 1974 meters above sea level.
The alpine crossing was absolutely spectacular and unique in its volcanic nature. As the clouds rolled in and winds increased, we decided to get of the funky plateau to find shelter below. We me a couple of crazy Russians (who were going to sleep on the funky plateau but bailed later), a beautiful sunset and some rangers who probably wondered if we were sane to be up there that late.
I celebrated New Years by eating a cheese and salami tortilla in my sleeping bag, forgot the chips though. Bummer.
First day of 2017 didn't start in an awesome way since we slept little, got rained on and was kind of cold. When we reached the small and sleepy village of Whakapapa we decided to wait out the rain with a hotel breakfast. After all, it's only one first breakfast of every year...
Wh in Maori is pronounced F, making Whakapapa a funny name for everybody with some imagination.