Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Volcano Out The Kitchen Window: Tongariro National Park


In the mountains, the air is perfectly clear and quenching, there's not a hint of road noise, and you park once and walk everywhere. And then, as just happened while I was writing you, a snowstorm blows through for 90 seconds on a sunny day and all you can do is laugh.

Mt Ruapehu at left, Ngauruhoe at right

Tongariro became New Zealand’s first national park in 1887. Just over one hundred years later, the park was awarded dual UNESCO World Heritage status for both its cultural significance to the Māori people, as well as its outstanding natural features.

The 80,000-hectare park is a spectacular showcase of volcanic wonders including emerald lakes, old lava flows, steaming craters, colourful silica terraces and peculiar alpine gardens. It is an environment of staggering beauty and diversity.

Three volcanoes – Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro – mark the southern limits of the Taupo Volcanic Zone, the horseshoe-shaped series of volcanic phenomena that make up the Pacific Ocean’s ‘Ring of Fire’.

Volcanic activity started here around two million years ago and continues to this day. Ruapehu and Tongariro, which date back before the last ice age, are two of the most active composite volcanoes in the world, with Ruapehu last erupting in 1996. Ngauruhoe – geologically considered a ‘vent’ – last erupted in 1975.

Catching up: back on Lake Taupo Art beach-picked a new hat.

On the drive to Tongariro National Park we stopped for gas and got more than full service.

Because we're without a caravan we're staying in a cabin on the park grounds, a short walk from the beautifully maintained walking tracks.

The cabin has a generous kitchen, which we've put to good use sauteing snapper.

And a lovely little deck.


You could all be staying here with us in the extra sets of bunks. Each day we say hello to folks from all over the world who are here for the hikes, but people also come in winter to ski.

We've been walking the various tracks and enjoying it immensely. This is our kind of biosphere.

There's enormous variation in landscape.

The volcano revealed itself slowly this morning, wearing its very own weather system like a necklace.

Cheers from under the volcano. Tomorrow we're going to move to a different part of this same park for some fresh vistas.


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