I think it was about the mid 80’s when my younger brother Don and my father who was recently retired joined me for an adventure in the Tongariro National Park . We walked what is now called the Northern Circuit . Starting from the Mangatepopo side we crossed over to the Ketatahi hut , stayed a night there before retracing then heading down the Oturere Valley and staying in the hut there and then Waihohonu hut before the final walk back to Whakapapa Village ( about a 4-5 day adventure )
My father died not so many years after that walk and a busy lifetime has past by since then and here I am myself “ recently retired “ and revisiting this collection of memories .
It was a really good adventure , actually a rare event as this was one of only 2 adventures that I had that involved my dad being there. He accepted my invitation twice and I always had some random adventure or other on the boil. They were good times , now treasured memories. Dad found the walk pretty tough , his knees gave him plenty of grief . As I plodded down the Mangatepopo valley with my own set of aches and pains my mind wandered back to Dad and the circle of life.
I was dropped off on the desert road entry for a counter clockwise walk , which started with a 6 km walk into the first hut , Waihohonu, then on to Oturere hut ( a further 8 km ) . Gale force winds and snow showers made for a tough walk and was pleased to finally see the hut and get the log burner stove heating the hut. Outside temps were 0 degrees c .
Morning views from Oturere
A fresh snowfall over the last week had dumped an impressive icing hence the walk up the Oturere Valley was amazing. The volcanic eruptions that created this area have left interesting evidence of the violence with flowing lava shoots and weird rock formations . With no one walking the area for some days , I had the privilege of virgin snow all the way to the top of the red crater where I met the first 2 walkers heading across the Tongariro Crossing walk .
Pics above on the Red Crater ridge . Was icy on the southern descent of the ridge and crampons were handy there . Afternoon snow flurries reduced vis but the day was essentially wind free so no wind chill factor to worry about .
Spent the second night here , hut all to myself , but the place was very cold as it does not have any heating to speak of . Was an early to bed night just to stay warm
Morning view of Ngauruhoe from Mangatepopo Hut
Took a cabin at the park to rest before the last big days walk back to my pickup point on the desert road on Sunday
The last day was a full 23 km back out to the desert road. I abandoned the plan to have a last night at Waihohonu Hut as it was full to the gills with a bunch of folk who had parked at the desert road and were just staying at the hut . People everywhere , getting ready to sleep on the floors . I was very happy to depart. Mostly non trampers. I used my sat device to ask Ian to pick me up and I made a dusk dash to the road .