Friday, February 17, 2012

Trek to Mordor

.Feb 14, 2012 - The Tongariro Alpine Crossing was the supposed to be the highlight of our NZ trip, and the reason why I chose to go to New Zealand in the first place. But as luck would have it, the weather was uncooperative. We were all promptly geared up at 5:45 AM when our guide/driver told us about the weather forecast. While he didn't force us to postpone our trip, i did feel that he would rather we do it the next day when there's a chance that the weather would get better. I'd rather not do it myself either since my main reason for doing the trek was to go take some pictures.  Luckily, the group decided we could wait until the following day and hope the weather clears up.

Come the following morning, it wasn't raining, which was a positive sign. Unfortunately, up in the mountains, the weather was more or less the same. There's a slight chance it might not rain as hard until noon but we can't expect too much. Despite the gloomy forecast, there was no backing out now. So we head out, hopeful for that very small window.

The trek started at Mangatepopo carpark to Soda Stream. It was an easy track, no surprises.
Soda Springs
Carpark to Soda Stream

After about an hour or so, we started the climb through the Devil's Staircase. It quite a steep climb, and the wind and fog did not make it any easier. It was still manageable though as the track was relatively well formed.

At the top of the Devil's Staircase was the intersection to the Mt. Ngauruhoe summit. It was quite windy at this point and the visibility was about 5-10 meters. The boys decided it wasn't worth it to do the summit and we continued on the normal track.

To climb or not to climb Mt. Doom
To climb or not to climb Mt Doom

What followed was the South Crater, which offered a reprieve. It was flat, and because it was between two ridges, wasn't quite as windy. It looks like a set out of an apocalyptic movie though because of the fog.

South Crater to Red Crater
South Crater, the Red Crater looming on the horizon
Then it was the Red Crater. It was another steep climb. Unlike the Devil's Staircase, the track was not well formed at all and very narrow. On your left is a cliff, which I have no idea how high because of the thick fog. The wind was strong as well and I had to stop a few times just to get my bearing. Honest to god, it was scary! I have no photo of the track unfortunately, because i was rather focused on not falling!

Red Crater
Top of Red Crater

When we reached the top of the Red Crater, i thought the worst was over. Little did i know the descent was going to be much harder. It was on loose steep gravel. I was afraid of slipping and completely sliding off the cliffs. It was still windy and very foggy. The boys on the other hand didn't seem to find it difficult at all and just kept laughing at how scared we girls were.

Descending Red Crater
Descending Red Crater

We finally reached the bottom, and would've missed the lakes entirely. In fact we only saw one lake. The visibility was very poor and it was still windy so we didn't really stay long to look at the Emerald Lakes. Besides, there was nothing to see. It was a bit disappointing.

Barely Visible Emerald Lakes
Barely visible Emerald Lakes
Can't find Blue Lake

The treck to Ketatahi Hut went by quickly. It was mostly downhill and the weather was starting to clear. We were jogging at one point because it was easier. The next two hours were mostly downhill, passing through alpine vegetation, and then rain forest.

Down down down

Are we there yet?

An hour and a half after the Ketatahi Hut, we finally reached the car park. 

We made it! I, the newbie, made it! 19.41 kilometers with 891-meter climb in 6 hours against wind, fog and rain. Not bad at all. 

Maybe i will come back again next time. But i'll definitely wait for a better weather then.

More photos on my Flickr.


  1. so looking forward to see NZ one, hopefully soon, day!! :) great treck!!

    1. Thanks Kristina :) I was hoping for a better weather for our trek, but it was still unforgettable nonetheless. Hope you can make your way down there soon. NZ is awesome :)

  2. And now you need to change the title of your blog to refer to jandals! For another reason to go to New Zealand look at this post on Great Barrier.



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