Tongariro: Volcanoes, Waterfalls and Bad Weather

November 26, 2017


The Tongariro National Park, in the middle of New Zealand’s North Island, made it with high priority on our to-see list in New Zealand, because:

  1. It’s home to 3 of New Zealand’s volcanoes (and one of them even “starred” in Lord of the Rings).
  2. It contains the alpine crossing, which is said to be one of the best one-day hikes in the world.
  3. Its scenery is generally very beautiful.

Out of these 3 points, we verified the third, but the other two we’ll have to check another time, because the weather decided to ruin our plans…

We arrived in Tongariro in the afternoon, and the weather was cloudy and cold, with low clouds obscuring the view of the high mountains. The next day, we were planning to do the alpine crossing, but the weather was still cloudy and foggy when we woke up in the morning, and the forecast was rain for the whole day. The only upside was that the clouds cleared for long enough for Daniel to take a photo of one of the volcanoes.

We figured that it wouldn’t make much sense to go on a long hike in the rain and not see anything along the way. So we changed our plans to a shorter hike to some waterfalls, instead of the alpine crossing. While the hike and the waterfalls were nice, it still felt like a poor replacement for the alpine crossing. Plus, the rain promised by the weather forecast didn’t show up, so we were left with a slight disappointment at not having done the crossing.

When we were leaving the park though, we stopped along the way to see another, smaller waterfall, made famous (again!) by “Lord of the Rings”, because due to the movie, the pool formed at the bottom of the waterfall is known as “Gollum’s pool” – it’s a pool in which he was swimming in one of the movies. But its claim to fame aside, the waterfall was quite nice.

Crossing over to the South Island

With the short visit to Tongariro, the time we were planning to spend on New Zealand’s North Island ran out, and we had to make our way to the South Island. Fortunately the weather was much better, so we could enjoy the beautiful crossing – and given the price we paid for the ferry for us and the car, we really needed to enjoy it to justify the cost…

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