Tongariro Northern Circuit and Around the Mountain – Waihohonu Hut to Rangipo Hut

The third day of an epic six day hike around Tongariro National Park, an 87km loop covering the Great Walk Northern Circuit and the Around the Mountain Track. This was possibly my favourite day of the hike, with incredible views and landscapes.

It was a good start to the day at Waihohonu Hut with the sunrise lighting up Mt Ruapehu, and Mt Ngauruhoe finally emerged from the cloud it had hidden behind yesterday.

Within half an hour I was at Ohinepango Springs, where beautiful fast flowing water emerges from under rocks.

It was a bit of a slog along a sandy track, but there was plenty of colour, including these odd red stains coming out of the hillside.

After a short climb was one of my favourite views of the whole hike, with a stunning landscape below, and wonderful play of light on the landscape.

The top of Mt Ruapehu popped out of the clouds.

A little further on the track dropped down to a barren landscape, which was relatively flat but felt almost endless to cross.

There was a hut like structure in the distance but it isn’t a tramping hut, the give away being the huge radar masts. After a decent climb up the last thing I was expecting to see was this camper van…

The track mostly followed the contours of the landscape with quite epic views out toward the Desert Road, a highlight of the hike.

The sights kept coming as the track dropped down to cross the first lahar, a channel which super heated volcanic steam has raced down three times in the past fifty years. There was the smell of volcanic sulphur in the air, and snow on top of Mt Ruapehu in the distance.

Thankfully there is a sturdy bridge crossing over the colourful chasm below.

It was a slog, through increasingly poor weather to reach Rangipo Hut for the night.

Author: jontycrane

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