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Walking the Great 9: The Tongariro Northern Circuit

I really do love it when a plan comes together. What turns from a small idea to actual reality always seems to amaze me, and that was exactly the case with this trip. Having knocked off 2 of the 9 great walks to date and having now relocated to Wellington, it was time to explore the various parks and walks the North Island had to offer. In particular I had one walk in mind which I had been wanting to take on for quite some time; The Tongariro Northern Circuit. I'm fortunate enough to have some very like-minded adventure enthusiasts for mates here in the North and so when I presented this idea to them, there was nothing but excited responses all round.

So what's to know about the Tongariro national park? Well, Tongariro is New Zealand's oldest national park and a dual World Heritage site. It is home to 3 of New Zealand's most active volcanoes, Mount Ngauruhoe, Mount Tongariro and Mount Reupehu, . If that's not enticing enough to go and see this amazing area then I don't know what is! The Northern circuit is also listed as another of the 9 Great walks of New Zealand, giving spectacular views of the volcanic heart of Tongariro National Park, a landscape of stark glacial contrasts and alpine landscapes. I was excited just thinking about it.

A snow cloaked Mount Ngauruhoe

Cole and Sam Johnston know the area very well as they venture often into the Tongariro National Park to do the "Tongariro Crossing" ,awarded as being one of New Zealand's best day walks. Cam Barton, an avid photographer both underwater and on land, loved the idea of coming along and taking some winter shots with us. The date was set for the 19th may with an intended finish on the 22nd.

Kit packed and in the car, it was time to take the 5 hour drive to Whakapapa Village from Wellington. Eager to catch up with the guys, who had drove down during the day from Tutukaka up in Northland, I set off straight after work on Thursday 18th with our walk due to the start the next day. It was great to see them again, they had the beers waiting in the fridge and we were all dead excited for what was to come!

A great catch up with the guys

The next morning, the weather that was brought to us wasn't very flash at all, in fact it was so stink that we decided we would delay the walk a day which meant we could complete it in 3 days rather than 4, which was definately do-able. So what do we do with our free day to explore? Well we firstly took a drive and walked a couple of the Whakapapa short trails, firstly to Silica Rapids and then onward to an awesome waterfall in the form of Tawhai Falls. It was an epic spot to take some shots and get our eye in on the cameras as this trip was going to be full of photos!

Silica Rapids