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Mount Tongariro

Tongariro Volcanic Plateau Crossing, New Zealand

Story by Jeff Smith Photography March 16th, 2014

mount ngauruhoe

Aka MOUNT DOOM. Ngauruhoe was used as a stand-in during filming in Peter Jackson‘s The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.

An active stratovolcano, made from layers of lava and tephra. It is the youngest vent in the Tongariro volcanic complex on the Central Plateau of New Zealand’s North Island, and first erupted about 2,500 years ago. Although seen by most as a volcano in its own right, it is technically a secondary cone of Mount Tongariro. A World Heritage site, the Tongariro National Park is the oldest in New Zealand, and one of the most popular one-day tramps in the country.

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approaching tongariro

What are these photos about?

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south crater

The first major break and crossroads in the journey leading to Mount Ngauruhoe.

With many tourists leaving their mark, you can see that this is a heavily visited tourist attraction, drawing travellers from all over the world, well and truly proving its position as one of New Zealand’s 9 Great Walks.

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it can be like walking on the moon

Looking out over the expansive barren landscape, parts of the trek can easily transport you to another place.

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What are these photos about?

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or perhaps mars

What are these photos about?

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Looking back...

…across the South Crater towards Mount Ngauruhoe From Mount Tongariro. The scale here is _simply massive_.

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The Emerald lakes

Snow melt fills explosion craters near the summit of Mt Tongariro. Their brilliant colours are partly caused by dissolved minerals, washed down from the thermal area of the nearby Red Crater. They’re highly acidic and obviously, not suitable for a dip.

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What are these photos about?

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A view across central crater

Looking across to ‘Blue Lake’ (Te wai-whakaiata-o-te Rangihiroa). The steam seen rising behind it is from the most recent eruption craters which sent rocks flying into the air in 2012, destroying a tramper/hiker D.O.C. Hut when rocks descended through the roof, bedding, floor and into the ground beneath. Fortunately, no one was in the hut at the time.

J. C. Bidwill, the first person to climb Mt Ngauruhoe, in 1839, said that “the crater was the most terrific abyss I ever looked into or imagined”.

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Crossing the crater

We’re now standing on the rim of Blue Lake, looking back towards the site of the prior photo.

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What are these photos about?

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TE WAI WHAKAIATA-O-TE RANGIHIROA

The aptly-named ‘Blue Lake’.

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Walking the rim of blue lake

Circling the upper rim of Te Wai Whakaiato-O-Te Rangihiroa.
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downhill towards the end

Which is still 2-3 hours away.

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2012 Te Māri eruptions

On the 6th August 2012, Mt Tongariro had what was initially believed to be a hydrothermal eruption after a month of increased activity. Occurring at the Te Māri Craters which had been dormant since 1897. The eruption occurred in a new vent below the Upper Te Māri crater, and sent blocks as big as 1 metre in size up to 2kmfrom the vent. An ash cloud 6.1km high deposited ash into the surrounding area, especially to the east of the volcano, travelling 250km in four hours. NIWA reported the ash cloud contained about 10,000m3 of ash.

No injuries were reported, and the only significant property damage was to the Department of Conservation‘s Ketetahi Hut, which is located 1.5 km to the West. Mount Tongariro erupted again at 1:20pm on 21 November, ejecting an ash cloud 4000m into the air. Geologists had no warning before the eruption, saying it wasn‘t linked to warnings the week before of elevated activity at nearby Mount Ruapehu. - Wikipedia

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Footnote: For more information on The Tongariro Crossing & Northern Circuit walks, visit www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/national-parks/tongariro/
Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Tongariro National Park, New Zealand