Cribbing from Lonely Planet...
Tongariro National Park's landmark features are its active volcanoes. Three of them--Mts Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe (with its symmetrical cone), and Tongagiro--lie at the southern end of a volcanic chain that extends northwest through the heart of the North Island, past Taupo and Rotorua and, finally, Whakaari (White) Island.
(or as I call it "Mt Unpronounceable," the symmetrical one you seen in all our pix)
Via the Dept of Conservation website...
Tongariro was the first national park formed in New Zealand, and the fourth in the world. It was the first national park in the world to be gifted by a country's indigenous people, on 23 September 1887.
When established the original size of Tongariro National Park was 2,640 hectares. It has gradually increased to its present size of 79,596 hectares (ed note: nearly 200,000 acres).
Today, approximately one million people visit Tongariro National Park each year. Despite the popular ski fields on Mount Ruapehu (ed note: which are rockin' right now), there are more visitors in summer than winter due to the excellent hiking opportunities.
Mt Ruapehu at left, Ngauruhoe at right
- Mount Ruapehu's eight named glaciers are the only ones in the North Island. The summit region has a permanent cover of snow and ice.
- The volcanic vent in the top of the mountain contains a warm, acidic crater lake. The lake passes through regular warming and cooling cycles, which may result in small eruptions of ash and steam.
- Mount Ruapehu is the highest point in the North Island and, like Tongariro, its history began before the last ice age.
- More than 60 eruptions from the Ruapehu crater have been recorded since 1945.
- During the 1995 and 1996 eruptions, the Crater Lake disappeared completely, then refilled over several years.
- The Te Maari craters on the northern slopes of Mount Tongariro erupted on 6 August 2012 and 21 November 2012
- Traditionally Ngauruhoe has erupted at least every nine years, although the last eruption was in 1975
- Mount Tongariro's active Red Crater last emitted ash in 1926
- Mount Ruapehu's last eruption was 25 September 2007. Prior to that there were large eruptions in 1995 and in 1996.
Time to seek out a flat white. We walked to the other hotel in tiny Whakapapa, called the Skotel, apparently a mash-up of Ski + Hotel (mildly annoying, that name, but cozy inside). The place was virtually empty but a friendly host said she could make us a coffee. Yes, please. We warmed our damp toes by the fire.
Tramping is walking multiple days and sleeping over in huts sprinkled across this grand landscape.
I almost forgot. At the visitor center they had an exhibit on goodnature stoat/rat/possum traps. Regular readers know that mammals of the order rodentia devastate bird populations in this country, resulting in traps, poison, and all manner of eradication efforts.
Seems someone has devised a quick and painless death for the interlopers. From the site:
Get more bang, bang, bang... for your buck. Our A24 rat & stoat trap resets itself 24 times per gas canister and comes with a pump that refreshes the lure automatically for six months. Our A12 trap for possums resets itself 12 times per gas canister.
Here's a video of how it works (click here if you can't view vid). "Possums killed humanely and instantly when they bite and pull on the lure-filled bite block."