For the discerning hill walker try these 2 trips from Summer Lodge

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      Tony Gazley

      Climbing Te roro o Taiteariki – a peak you’ve never heard of.

      Sarah on the summit of Te roro o Taiteariki. A mighty Maunga one day perhaps.

      There are a gazillion places to go from the WTMC Summer Lodge. The favourites would usually be the peaks, lakes, craters, waterfalls, and sometimes checking out the alpine flowers.

      But if you want a bit of a challenge with a difference how about navigating yourself to the little known peak of Te roro o Taiteariki? It’s one of the lowest recently active volcanic cones in the park, and is possibly the furthest away from the lodge.

      So here’s the task: armed only with summer tramping gear and a map and compass get yourself from the front door of the lodge to the summit and back again within two days.

      It’s been done as a trip of one day plus two half days (two nights out) and was a very cool adventure through some seldom visited areas of the park. And it provides the need for some good navigating and route finding if you are not going to waste time.

      So put aside two days of your Summer Lodge stay and head off to Te roro o Taiteariki. You are spoilt for route choices and you’ll visit some cool places on your way.

      You can read about the trip on the club forum.

      Rangipo Desert

      Ngāuruhoe – a day loop from the lodge.

      Before undertaking this tramp from the lodge make sure you have purchased a copy of the 2023 Tramping NZ Calendar. Without this to remind you of dates you may get half way around the trip and then suddenly remember you have already done it last Wednesday. So before you forget skip down to Bivouac in Mercer Street with $20 cash to get your calendar. View the calendar.

      Mt Ngāuruhoe and Red Crater (photo from the 2023 Tramping NZ Calendar)

      Mt Ngāuruhoe is the second highest mountain in the Tongariro National Park at 2,291 m, and is either a rather cute and perfectly formed composite volcanic peak or a humungous pile of chunderous rock, depending on how your day is going.

      Although it is usually thought of as a separate mountain, Māori myths regard Mt Ngāuruhoe as part of Mt Tongariro, and geologically it is actually just a young parasitic cone of Tongariro—in the same way Fanthams Peak is to Taranaki. And he is just a youngster of 7,000 years compared to the 250,000 year old Tongariro.

      In the Māori world mountains rise towards the realms of Ranginui (the Sky Father) that are places remote from human settlement and have great awe and spiritual presence. Almost every prominent peak in New Zealand is linked to a local iwi identity, 

      When Ngatoroirangi the navigator of Te Arawa and a powerful tohunga was ascending Tongariro (Ngāuruhoe) to make his claim to the surrounding lands on behalf of his people he was overcome by a violent storm and desperately called on his priestess sisters in prayer for warmth. They responded with fire at the volcano’s summit, and in appreciation Ngatoroirangi sacrificed one of his slaves Aurohoe. The mountain is considered to be named after this unfortunate fellow.

      To the local Ngati Tuwharetoa the peak is tapu and climbers should respect this and avoid standing on the highest point which to the tribe is the head of an ancient ancestor.

      On a fine day the view from just below the summit is one of a volcanic wonderland. Both at once calming and serene, and full of malice. Lakes sparkle below and the snowy summits of Ruapehu shine in the distance, while fumaroles at your feet send steam and sulphureous gases into the air reminding you that the Earth’s crust in the Taupo Volcanic Zone is being stretched where the Pacific tectonic plate is being subducted and it is some of the thinnest in the world, and molten magma lies not too far below.

      For a MF/F trip from the lodge drive to the start of the Tama Lakes track behind the Chateau and head off towards Upper Tama Lake. At the lake viewpoint head along the ridge directly towards Ngāuruhoe and just keep going. The climb up the scoria is the same as scoria anywhere else, and mostly ok once you get the hang of it, and soon enough you are at the top. Spend some time here, climb down into the crater, and wonder when it will next erupt.

      Then down the northern slopes onto the Tongariro Track and back to the Chateau carpark to end a nice day out. About 12 hours. Highly recommended.

      Lower Tama Lake and Mt Ruapehu

      Upper Tama Lake

      Tama Lakes and Ruapehu from the slopes of Ngāuruhoe

      Ngāuruhoe crater

      Tongariro South Crater below the clouds

      Trampers’ scars – but does it matter? Someday soon Ngāuruhoe will erupt again and the slopes will be covered in fresh lava and ash.

      Pyroclastic flows from the 1975 eruption – the understated hazard of the Tongariro volcanos

      Not so many rocks now!


      Details of Summer Lodge are here

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