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lower helipad without any ice caves in sight. Disappointed, we returned to the town site for lunch and watched Japanese tourists spill out of the tour buses to take photos. A trip to New Zealand must in some way include a taste of Middle Earth. Being fans of the Lord of the Rings tril‑ ogy we decided to forgo the theme park setting of the movie site at Hobbiton and instead walk to Mount Doom, more properly known as Mount Ngauruhoe by way of the Tongariro Crossing on the North Island. It's a 19.4‑kilometre hike— or should I say tramp—with nearly 800 metres of elevation across valleys, craters and past the lovely Emerald Lakes. While the trek is listed as challenging, that didn't stop hordes of tourists, some with their shorts, tank‑tops and iPhones walk‑ ing the full‑day trek. We were, however, particularly impressed with the school group of 10 year‑olds doing the trek fully prepared with backpacks, boots, snacks and water. It starts off easy enough from the Mangatepopo car park to Soda Springs before elevation begins. Up the devil's staircase toward the vast South Crater it's an otherworldly place. Positioning the camera to take in the expanse and avoid the other hikers was challenging. ere are that many people, especially on a nice sunny day. From there, it's another short climb following an exposed ridge around the Red Crater. It's truly spectacular with views over the Oturere Valley, Rangipo Desert, Kaimanawa Ranges and down towards the Emerald Lakes. Descending to the lakes involves walking on black scree‑like lava rock. A short break for lunch and then we continue on toward the Ketetahi Shelter though the rolling logistics that go into running a house‑ hold, their school and activities were thought out. Now, the idea of driving throughout the country, 3,800 kilometres in all, after jet‑setting more than 19,000 kilometres to get there seems like a very long way to go over a two‑week period. In truth, it is. But then, we all know it usually takes some effort to get to the really extraordinary places in this world. New Zealand is such a place. e highlight was to visit Franz Josef Glacier, which is about half an hour's drive from the laid back Fox Glacier town site on the west coast of the South Island. e glacier is renowned for its pristine ice formations and spectacular ice caves, but the weather thwarted our plans. Low cloud ceiling grounded the helicopters. Back at Fox Glacier they were still flying, so we managed to join the Fox Glacier tour along with a dozen other tourists. Still the low cloud cover impeded us and we ended up walking down to the New Zealand an extraordinary bucket list tick by susanna oreskoVic I can't see the road ahead, it's raining, it's dark. e road turns sharply, going upward, upward toward Fox Glacier town site. I glance at my GPS, mapping the road ahead for me. e rain lets up, finally, but not before thick fog blankets across the road. It would be beautiful for my camera to capture had it not been so late already, had I not been so tired. Safe and sound at Fox Glacier town site, we slump into bed at our cosy back‑ packer inn. My husband and I travel. Even when we started our family, we'd just pack up the kids and go. As any parent knows, however, the pace of family travel is quite different. So every few years we manage to go on our own, sans the kids. On my husband's bucket list was a long‑time wish to travel to New Zealand. at, and with his milestone birthday around the corner, it was quickly decided. Work pro‑ jects were put on hold, caretakers for our three young kids were enlisted and all the Walter Tom and Susanna Oreskovic appreciate the spectacular Red Crater at the high point of the Tongariro Crossing hike. photo: a felloW hiker Hikers descend from the ridge overlooking the dramatic South Crater on the Tongariro Crossing hike. photo: susanna oreskoVic

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