Monday, February 11, 2013

The Northern Circuit

I have successfully completed one of the "9 great walks" of New Zealand.  Of course all great deeds come with caveats.  Technically, the northern circuit starts and stops in Whakapapa.  Since I did the stretch from Whakapapa to Mangetapopo hut (about 8 km) on Wednesday (see Tongariro Crossing Post) and the weather was going to be good enough to add in a summit of Mt. Ngarahoe (Mt. Doom, see Tama Lakes Post) I decided to take the shuttle from Whakapapa to about 1 mile down from Mangetapopo.  So technically, I covered the full length of the Northern Circuit but on 2 different days. My Saturday Total was 25 miles.  Of course the watch ran out of battery at mile 23...

I took some photos with my phone.  This first one is the map from my watch.  Which is broken again (the cover on the usb stick likes to break).  If anyone has Nike connections in the US, let me know.  New Zealand Nike in Aukland (much closer than Colorado) can replace it with authorization from the US, but I don't seem to know how to get that authorization.  Otherwise I have to mail it to Tom and have him do it.

 The view from the top of Mt. Ngarahoe.  That's the Blue Lake in the distance.
Another view from the top.  The rest of my run goes past the brown lake looking area, up the ridge from there and then down through the valley you see on the right. 

I passed a similar sign about 700 m before this saying "Volcanic Flying Rock Zone next 700m do not stop" and failed to take a picture of that one.  Up the hill (did not come out in a picture) are vents spewing all kinds of nasty stuff.  Apparently rocks come flying out occasionally too.  

 This view of Mt. Ngarahoe is good as you can see in the middle there a lighter colored streak.  Just to the left of that is a band of rocks.  The ascent is pretty much straight up scrambling on the rocks and the descent is a scree surf/slide straight down the light colored streak.  I was a bit intimidated going in, but then I saw who else was doing it, the day was perfect and it turns out it was pretty easy and fun.  My legs were pretty unhappy about the down part the next day, though.  And I'm only about 6 miles into my 25 at this point after doing an ascent of about 3600 ft. from the start to the top of Ngarahoe. 
 Another view of Ngarahoe. 

 A cool big vent/gash in the Red Crater.
 The "famous" Tongariro Crossing is actually only open to the Red Crater and here is the sign telling you so.  The reason is that the Te Maari crater erupted twice this fall.  Once on August 6 and once on November 21 and it is still gassing. For some really cool footage and more information see  In fact the Te Maari crater is not doing too much at the moment, but just over from it a whole bunch of new vents opened in the last week.  My bus driver took me to see it with some binoculars.  I told him about the vents on the North side of the Red Crater and he was surprised by how much gassing there was.  The area is very active at the moment. 

One last note.  If you watch the footage posted on with the article in the link.  What is amazing to me is that the hillside that has the new vents, looked on Sunday exactly like Te Maari looks in this footage just before it blows.   It made me very glad this trail is closed (which depending on wind, angle and how it blows, could be right in the path of a pyroclastic flow).

1 comment:

  1. It's probably a good thing that you didn't take a picture of the first "Volcanic Flying Rocks" sign--it was probably safer to keep moving. :)