Sunday 19 February 2012


The Chateau Tongariro knows all about framing a view - of Ngauruhoe this morning, such a bright clear one that when I opened the curtains in the girls' bedroom, I said, "Oh look, it's even better than yesterday. Let's go again!" Surprising lack of enthusiasm, curiously. (There were 13 fat rabbits grazing on that lawn yesterday evening, by the way - and rabbit also on the menu in the dining room. Coincidence? I don't think so.)

Here are the facts of the Crater Lake Walk: two chairlifts up from 1600m to 2020m, then a 2-hour walk (so they call it) up Restful Ridge (ha!) to 2670m for a view of the crater lake and the actual summit of 2797m - and then back down the same way but with a bit of a detour to allow for sliding down a couple of long patches of snow - all done in about 5-6 hours. You really wouldn't want to do it without a guide, though lots of people do, just in case the weather closes in, as it can do with astonishing speed, because once off the ridge, there's no path at all and it would be very easy to end up stuck at the top of a cliff with no idea of where to go.
In this photo, the summit is on the far right, and on the other side of the dip to its left is the Dome, which is the furthest point of our walk, from where we could look down at the crater lake. Imagine the mountain covered in snow, with a huge billowing cloud of ash dwarfing it and the Chateau: the 1996 eruption was spectacular.

As was this icecream, at the dairy in Pokeno on the way home, which the girls talked about for miles and then were daunted by, in the end settling for scoops of just two of the 44 available flavours. Pikers!

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