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World on a Shoestring A beginnger's guide to traveling around the world...as written by beginners...

Crossing Tongariro

NEW ZEALAND | Saturday, 24 February 2007 | Views [1087]


The epic country of New Zealand sits smack dab on the Pacific Ring of Fire, which is a ring of volcanoes around the pacific ocean.  One of these volcanoes sits in a town called National Park on the North Island.  Passing between this volcano and the mountain seated next to it is a path that was originally used to pass the mountains before there were roads.  This path is now a tramping path for tourists.  What they don't tell you is that you need to be in good shape to do this hike.  What they do tell you is that its an easy hike with wonderful views, but be careful because the weather could change at any minute and it could rain, or snow, or frogs could fall out of the sky; they just tell you to be prepared with appropriate clothing. 

Liars.  This seven hour hike started beautifully, with wonderful weather accompanying us. And we were lucky enough to have wonderful weather for the duration of our hike.  All seven hours of it was spent under the burning hot, blazing ball of fire in the sky which, if you asks me, sits closer to New Zealand than any other country.  Thanks to excessive usage of aerosols, that big hole in the ozone layer you always hear about sits nicely above New Zealand, giving it the highest skin cancer rates in the world!  Well, being the brilliant mind that I am, I didn't even bother with sunscreen.  So now i'm a little bit lighter thanks to my top layer of skin peeling off my face, arms, and back!

But, the sights are beautiful, the scenery is epic and inspiring, and the when you're all finished with the hike, you have a wonderful sense of accomplisment to go along with your beer. 

I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.  Oh, and oddly enough, all the way at the top of this huge mountain, in the middle of nowhere, 10,000 miles from home, we managed to meet someone who went to Immaculata...small world, big mountain.


NB--two things:  first, those crystal clear turquoise pools you see behind me are geo-thermal hot pools that sit on top of the mountain, but you're not allowed to go in them, and they stink like sulfur.  Secondly, the mountain that sits next to our active volcano is an inactive volcano that is home to the best skiing in New Zealand.  The crater at the top of this mountain formed a natural damn last time it errupted, and so water collects up there.  The natural damn is set to break, which will send a landlocked tidal wave down the mountain.  The last time this happened, in 1951, the wave, or Lehar, as they call it, rushed down the mountain and collided with one of only two trains in New Zealand that happened to be passing at the time, washing out the bridge and killing 90 people.  The damn is set to burst again, literally any day, and we drove across that bridge...

Tags: Mountains

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