Today was the big walk. We (I and my eldest daughter) left very early in the morning being taken by a small bus to the start of the track. The weather was light drizzle. It felt a bit refreshing.
The track was well defined and easy to follow. It varied from gravel to raised wood to rock scrambling to mud to volcanic scree.
The vegetation started off as heath but the view was obscured by the drizzle. The drizzle and wind gradually increased with the distance we travelled. Towards the summit, the wind was about 80 kph and the drizzle was now icy shards of rain. At this point, we could only take a few steps at a time as we had to brace ourselves from the wind and keep our faces turned away from the rain.
At points the track was mud and water. We were soaked and freezing but it was better to go forward with the wind at our backs. As a change, two guys jogged past us. Amazing and annoying.
After the summit, we eventually started the descent. At this time the rain stopped and the wind changed and was icy cold. We continued along a narrow mud path hugging the mountain side until the path turned to gravel. At short while later we reached a hut where we warmed up and rested. Until now we hadn’t rested as there was no place to get out of the wind and/or rain.
The vegetation had also changed to low alpine plants to dense alpine scrub and grasses to rainforest with a bubbling stream.
We stayed at Discovery Lodge in the Tongariro National Park. It was an excellent camp area with very friendly and helpful staff. The view from the camping area was amazing.