National Park

This morning I took a shuttle from the hostel to Whakapapa Village in the national park. From there one can take a chair lift up Mt. Ruhapehu, but I decided against that because there were thick clouds shrouding the mountain. Instead I opted to do 3 shorter hikes, always returning to the village, which had the advantage of giving me a proper lunch break. 🙂

All three were gorgeous, especially the two longer ones (ca. 2 hours each) – Silica Rapids in the morning and Taranaki Falls in the afternoon. Both tracks were very well maintained and led through a wide variety of terrain – from forests (you know how much I love New Zealand forests!) over bogs, along bubbling and rushing streams as well as windswept plains formed by lava flow (very Lord of the Rings-y, those bits).
Silica Rapids - forest Silica Rapids - bog Taranaki Falls - stream Silica Rapids - lava fields

And the Falls themselves were so beautiful, I couldn’t help myself, I had to get up close and personal – although I didn’t take a bath in the icy water, unlike some German hikers I met. 🙂

Taranaki Falls - from the bottom Taranaki Falls - from the top

Btw, the snow-capped mountain is Mt. Ruapehu (with the North Island’s best skiing in winter), the one that’s flat on top is Mt. Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings), the long one is Mt. Tongariro (after which both the national park and the famous alpine crossing are named). As the day went on the clouds covering the first two lifted a bit, but they never completely showed themselves.
Mt. Ruapehu Mt. Ngauruhoe Tongariro

Tomorrow afternoon I’m taking the bus to Matamata – until Hamilton I’ll be traveling with one of my dorm mates here, a girl from Denmark, which is nice. I’ve been meeting several really nice people, incidentally – it really is so easy, especially when traveling alone. And still I got to enjoy most of the scenery (except the Taranaki Falls) as if I was the only person in the world…
Me at Silica Rapids

Note: All photos can be found in this set on Flickr.