Seven bright eyed faces peered out of the windows at the brown rocks and patchy snow as the van drove down Bruce Road. A right turn before the Chateau and they arrived at their road end. The trampers leapt out of the van into the brilliant blue-skied day, raring to go. They set off at a brisk pace, warming up in the crisp air.
The wide well-maintained track meandered along native tussock, dotted with patches of purple and white flowered heather. Mt Ruapehu towered over the trampers on the right. After a while the flat track rose into several gentle inclines. A slight breeze chilled their cheeks.
After about two hours walking they stopped and peered over a drop. A long way down below a blue lake glistened in the sun, with Mt Ruapehu rising above. First destination—they had arrived at the lower Tama Lake. Click, click—lots of good photo opportunities here.
The wind was pretty biting up here, so Tony their fearless leader suggested they climb down to the lake. It was a steep decent down shingley brown gravel, but was easier to walk down than it looked. Hooray, it was morning tea time!
They sat down on the sand and ate their snacks in the warm sun, well sheltered from the wind. ‘Ok’ said Tony, ‘we need to walk across the sand standing in each other’s footprints’. The reason for this was that the imprints can take a long time to disappear, so single file they went. When they reached the other side of the sand a steep ridge rose above. What goes down must go up—so up they went.
Again the climb was easier than it looked as the shingle was soft, and any icy bits had melted. Snowy Mount Ngauruhoe rose on the left, a breath taking sight. Click, click—out came the cameras again. At the top of the ridge they stopped and looked back at Mt Ruapehu. They climbed over the summit and a blue green lake glittered, with Mt Ngauruhoe above it. Lunch was sitting on the ridge overlooking the lake.
Then down they scampered to the lake. A few fingers were dipped in, brrr, it was freezing! No swimming today.
Back up the gravelly hill they climbed and onto the main track, well marked with orange poles. The sun was dropping and the air was feeling icy so the pace sped up. Past a gushing waterfall, and then there was the Chateau again. Out they came just before dark.
After a good 8 hours and 20 kms the hungry trampers were now looking forward to the solstice dinner.