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Mt. Tongariro’s Erupting

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.

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8 Responses to Mt. Tongariro’s Erupting

  1. Andrea August 15, 2012 at 8:28 am #

    My favourite hike ever! Can’t believe it’s erupting…I mean, I can believe it, but it’s so sad that the trail is closed. Hope NZ gets some peace soon!

    • Chris August 15, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

      Andrea, I complete agree. It’s one of my favorite hikes, for sure!

  2. Dad August 15, 2012 at 10:21 am #

    So happy you had the opportunity to visit this magical place before it erupted! Hopefully the mountain will calm down and folks can visit it again.

    • Chris August 15, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

      Thanks, Dad! Tongariro really reminded me of your recent road trip stop, Yellowstone. Minus the bubbling mud pits, of course!! 🙂

  3. Michael Hutchinson September 2, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

    Hello Team

    I see you have a old 1995 photo of Mt Ruapehu in eurption

    sorry, but this is not Tongario

    The Upper Te Mari Creater – (on the north flanks of Tongairo) had a minor steam driven eurption in Aug 2012- not drama – no red hot rock it lasted a few minutes
    just media not letting a good story get in the way of the truth.

    I have live in the Tongariro National park since 1995 (The Volcanic Plateau)
    so the August 2012 eurption does not even rate

    Regards

    Michael Hutchinson

    • Chris September 2, 2012 at 11:50 pm #

      Hi Michael,
      Thanks for your note and for letting me know about the photo of Mt Ruapeho! From my hike in 2010 I could tell that minor volcanic disturbances were a regular occurrence in that area, and really found the steam and sulfuric odors fascinating.

      I’m very glad to hear that the August 2012 eruption didn’t affect you as a resident.
      Cheers!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] found this one from my Tongariro Crossing hike in 2009. You can see the volcanic activity that I mentioned earlier this week was […]

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