Nearly 4 years ago, I hiked the Tongariro Crossing on New Zealand’s North Island. Rugged and steep and notoriously treacherous, it was by far the most difficult hike I’d ever completed at that time. But the effort was worth it — it was gorgeous. I was really amazed by the otherworldly landscape that unfolded at every turn in the path.
What I remember most vividly was the winding tendrils of geothermal steam that escaped from the rocky ground. (And the overwhelming smell of sulfur that came with it.) It reminded me of what I’d seen at Yellowstone, only high up and on the top of a mountain.
Last week, I was surprised (but not really) to hear that Mt. Tongariro is erupting for the first time in over a century. With a 20,000 foot ash cloud, and situated right next to the mountain that was filmed as Mt. Doom (Ngauruhoe), it’s unclear when the Tongariro Crossing will open again to tourists.
I feel thankful that I had the opportunity to do that hike when I did, because I’m not sure if I would risk it now. Between the earthquakes and now the volcanic activity, it seems like the plates under New Zealand are working overtime. Hope they settle down soon!
Also, I found an old video of my hike, that shows lots of the volcanic activity I noticed in 2009. Check it out here.