Tongariro National Park Running to Its Own Geological Beat
“The Tongariro Crossing is regularly called the best day walk in New Zealand, but with big claims come big crowds. At the height of summer, up to 1000 people file across the 19km-long trail every day, passing between two volcanoes and witnessing a spectacle of steaming craters and neon-bright lakes,” the Sydney Morning Herald’s Andrew Bain reports.
“One of the most exciting aspects of hiking in Tongariro National Park is that you are walking through a dynamic landscape. New craters open, land shifts and rocks rain from above. As recently as August 2012, Te Maari, a crater near the trail, erupted twice, spewing ash and rock kilometres into the sky. Tom Green, my guide, was just a couple of kilometres from the crater, guiding a group of walkers, at the time of the second eruption.
“‘The whole ground that day just went wallop,’ Green says. ‘With all the eruptions, there’s just so much more to see there now. It’s changed big time.’
“Nowhere is the impact of the rocks seen more vividly than at Ketetahi Hut, where a boulder smashed through the roof, crushing a bunk bed. Since that day, the hut has been used only as a day shelter.
“Ten years ago, I slept in Ketetahi Hut. There’s a grim fascination in standing here again, so close to potential disaster as the earth continues to churn, boil and steam. If I return 10 years from now, who knows what I’ll find? Tongariro National Park runs to its own geological beat.”
Original article by Andrew Bain, The Sydney Morning Herald, July 26, 2014.