Mount Ngauruhoe dominates this region but it remains covered in cloud today. We are close to Rotarua and everywhere is thermal; springs create spas for enterprising motel owners, lucky enough to buy land with geothermal activity. However, as a tourist we felt the Takaanu region had taken this too far! Arriving at a thermal pool, we felt it more like a swimming pool with additional kayaking facilities. Ok we were highly judgmental and refused to get out the car when we saw the shop with ice cream flags either side posing as an entrance.
New Zealand seems more laid back about it’s spectacular view points. Whereas Australia put up signs, and created big car parks, NZ chooses to comment there is a picnic spot, and forget to mention the amazing view. Is worth pulling up at some picnic areas just to look out.
Clouds scud across the sky as we drive up into Tangariro National Park to explore the 20 minute walk to the spectacular Tawhai waterfall.
Pass the Pampas grass which runs wild in the area to the visitor information centre. Many people set out for the Tangariro crossing from here. It’s a full day, but if you prefer to spend four days walking, there’s plenty of huts to sleep in on the mountain.
This is the area where Lord of the Rings filmed for Mount Doom. The low cloud is helping to set the scene. It’s dramatic, dark and beautiful. In all there are three huge volcanoes competing with each other for mastery of the universe. It is such a live volcanic area that the visitor centre is full of advice and points out the safe areas and the dangers of walking unprepared in this area.
Luckily the Iwikan ski resort road is open and we travel on up a good road. The landscape changes dramatically.
Within a thousand feet height it is stark with no snow, black volcanic boulders are spewn across the barren landscape. You cannot see the top of the mountain; the cloud level meets the end of the road. The plants fascinate me; a small white daisy pushes its way through the blackened moss.
How can anything grow here?
When you walk on the terrain it is surprisingly moist, but it has been raining lots! The lavar is red or black. Where the road has been cut through the strata seems to ooze glassily with amazing plasticity.