Tongariro by air


 

One of the really great things about working for DOC on Mount Ruapehu is that opportunities arise to participate in some of the activities available around the Park. Last month, my planned trip to the rim of the crater lake on Mt Ruapehu was foiled by poor weather so when Mountain Air called to say they had a spare seat if anyone was interested, I was on the road immediately…DSCF7897

Even by midday this bank of cloud was still sitting just short of the base of the Mountain and more importantly for the day’s unplanned activity, just short of the end of the Chateau Airport runway.
DSCF7899Our destination…DSCF7900

Our chariot…

DSCF7903 The Mangatepopo car park in the lower right, the start of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing…DSCF7909

The other side of the Alpine Crossing on the long descent from the Blue Lake to the Ketetahi Carpark which is the finish point of the Crossing…DSCF7907

A small patch of cloud mingling with steam from one of the volcanic vents on the north side of Mt Tongariro…DSCF7911

A closer look down on those steam vents…

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Looking west over the Blue Lake which is a bout the halfway point on the Crossing walk…DSCF7932

The Blue Lake with the Emerald Lakes on the lower left and the majestic bulk of Mt Tongariro in the background…DSCF7926

Looking closer at the Emerald Lakes with the Crossing track running from top right to lower left…DSCF7928Looking over the Emerald lakes and Red Crater towards Mt Ngauruhoe (aka Mt Doom in the Lord of the Rings trilogy). Just to the right of Red Crater, you can just make out the Crossing track: Red Crater marks the highest point on the Crossing at around 1780 metres, a good half kilometre above the 1200 metre start point at Mangetepopo…

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Mt Ngauruhoe …you can’t see them but on a good day like this, there were dozens of ambitious visitors clambering their way to the summit – they said that they waved but I didn’t see them. The journey to the summit of Mt Ngauruhoe is probably the most challenging of the three peaks in summer as the slopes are very steep (a constant 30 degrees), covered in loose material so that you may spend as much time sliding back as you do pushing forward, and there is always a risk of getting clocked by a rock or stone dislodged by climbers ahead of you….DSCF7968

Between Mts Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu lies Whakapapa Village, home of the Chateau Tongariro the main DOC base for administering the Park. The light coloured roofs on this side of the Village are the Skotel accommodation complex, and the tracks to the north of it run to Tama Lakes and Taranaki Falls…DSCF7993

Last but not least the splendour of Mt Ruapehu, with a glimpse of the Crater Lake. In a few months this will be covered in metres of snow but at the moment it is still relatively easy to trek up to the crater rim as a day trip form the Village.

Just after taking this picture, i switch my camera to video mode and recorded the remainder of the flight back around all three mountains and back to the airfield. I meant to convert it to MP$ and upload it to Youtube before I came away this week but I am afraid that you will have to wait until the weekend for me to get that down…

I’d really like to thank the lads at Mountain Air for taking me up. I’ve been in and out of aircraft of all sizes over the last three decades and i would have to say that their presentation and performance was as good as any other top-line aviation activity that I have been involved with. If you visit us on a nice day (and most of them are), Mountain Air offers a great way to see the Park and its attractions in a way that  a ground based perspective simply cannot match…

 

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