The fourth 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. It was a clear if cold start at Rangipo Hut, as I left at sunrise for a long day walking to Blyth Hut via Mangaehuehu Hut.
The landscape was glowing with the light of a new day, while patches of snow remained from significant snowfall the previous week which nearly trapped a group at Rangipo Hut.
It didn’t take long to reach a huge lahar. The descent was steep but manageable, but looking back up seemed almost impossibly steep. At the end was the ever present Mt Ruapehu, at 2797m the highest mountain on the North Island, and largest active volcano in New Zealand.
There huge views looking the other way across the surrounding landscape.
The track followed the undulating contours of this barren but beautiful land.
There is a surprising amount of colour and life around though.
The track headed through native beech forest, with a fair amount of boardwalk, which gave my feet a pleasant break from the rocky surfaces that dominates the Around the Mountain track.
I stayed in Mangaehuehu Hut the last time I walked this track, but this time just stopped for a quick break before continuing on.
More bush walking following, which normally isn’t my favourite but it made a welcome change from the rocks.
Lupton Hut is probably the only hut I’ve visited with carpet on the floor, but it still didn’t seem very appealing.
Particularly when Blyth Hut was only a short walk away, and I had the place to myself, a slightly spooky treat.
From here I enjoyed one of the better sunrises I’ve seen, with good views near the hut of the landscape below and Mt Ruapehu above.
The best view though was toward Mt Taranaki, ~200km away to the west, as the sky lit up with colour. It was quite spectacular, and an almost exact inverse of the incredible sunset I saw from Syme Hut, near the top of Mt Taranaki, looking back toward Mt Ruapehu in January 2021.