Outflanking the Tolkien Fans on Tongariro
Before Peter Jackson and his film crew rolled into town, Mount Doom went by the humble name of Mount Ngauruhoe, the fearsome volcano which forms the centrepiece of New Zealand’s Tongariro Alpine Crossing, the Independent’s Tom Peck writes.
“We are aiming for the Red Crater, at 1886m, the high point of the crossing in time for sunrise … and without a phalanx of walkers wielding selfie sticks.
“For the first two hours, we have to wear head-torches to light the way, which leads through bushes thick with manuka flowers, crucial ingredient in the world’s most prized honey.
“From here, the climb becomes a little less arduous, and the fading stars intimate that the sun is stirring. The first light illuminates the Blue Lake, a great wide crater, full of water fresh enough to drink. But we must press on.
“With around 90 seconds to spare, I make it, and sit my exhausted backside down on the hot, volcanic earth. Though it is only mankind that has designated it such, here, just west of the international dateline, this is still the world’s first sunrise.
“The red slopes of Mount Doom are glowing suddenly orange, at the foot of the sky there is a thick gold bar, pressed against the earth. And we are still alone.”
Original article by Tom Peck, The Independent, January 24, 2015.
Photo by Sue Shih.