Travels in New Zealand – Mt Ruapehu

During the summer of 2005 I spent a month journeying around New Zealand – a journey I would repeat tomorrow given the chance – and as the country remains one of my favorite places I’ve visited to date I thought I would share a few of the highlights here. The full story I recounted in 31 Days in a Campervan but these are new posts and not simply exerpts from the book and besides we can put the photos on here too. To kick it off here’s a bit about Mt Ruapehu in the Tongariro National Park.

The gargantuan mass of Mt Ruapehu rises to the South of Lake Taupo in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island and at 2797m or 9177ft is North Island’s highest mountain. The peak lies within Tongariro National Park which is also home to two other prominent volcanoes – Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Tongariro – and rises directly above Whakapapa, the highest township in New Zealand. Talking of superlatives, the Whakapapa Ski Area is also NZ’s largest, in defiance of the pleasantly warm North Island climate, and occupies the northern slopes of the mountain. Just goes to show how high these hills are!

The whole area is of a harsh rugged beauty and one is constantly reminded of its volcanic nature by the cone shaped Ngauruhoe and some very recent looking lava flows. Ruapehu’s last eruption was in 1996 which is hardly far off in history and Whakapapa has a system of warning sirens along with signs instructing you in which direction to run should the mountain suddenly burst into life.

Ruapehu Ngauruhoe and Tongariro from Taupo

The distant mountains of Tongariro National Park seen across Lake Taupo

View of Ruapehu

Mt Ruapehu seen from the tussock country of Tongariro National Park

My original intention had been to walk part of the Tongariro Crossing – the best known walk of the area – but with the weather as perfect as it could be bearing in mind that it was winter in the southern hemisphere, I looked into the possibility of ascending the peak. A local guide, Paul assured me that it was within my capabilities and we opted to do the Ruapehu Crater Climb which I believe is the highest walking – or tramping as it’s known here – trail in New Zealand.

The highest rocks of Ruapehu are a more technical challenge but this route ascends to a point called the Dome at 2672m (8767ft) overlooking the Crater Lake and even when covered with winter snow was not a technical route though the step kicking can be hard work in the thin air.

Our route lay through the highest part of the Whakapapa ski area at about 2000m which itself is accessed by the gondola from the top of the Bruce Road. Once you’ve avoided the skiers – bear in mind that some of them could be as bad as I am at the sport and have little control over where they are going or who they crash into – a wonderful ascent of Restful Ridge follows which leads up to a false summit before a wide arete is crossed to the Dome overlooking Crater Lake.

Awesome views that extended over much of North Island had accompanied us on the way up with Mt Ngauruhoe the centrepiece and Lake Taupo in the North along with far off Mt Taranaki near New Plymouth on the west coast. Banks of cloud obscured some of this at the top but the Crater Lake below and Ngauruhoe provided a fine backdrop to a stunning location. Paul told me that even in summer it seldom got as good as this – I think the mountain had been in a good mood today.

Mt Ngauruhoe

Mt Ngauruhoe (2287m) seen from Restful Ridge on the ascent of Ruapehu

Ruapehu crater

The view from the top looking roughly eastwards

Sea of clouds

A bank of cloud obscured the distant views from the summit

Pete with the Crater Lake

There are dodgy characters everywhere, even up here! The Ruapehu Crater Lake with the summit rocks of the peak beyond

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About Pete Buckley

I'm Pete Buckley the UK based indie author of "The Colonel of Krasnoyarsk" a high speed adventure thriller in which the reader is introduced to Russian Agent Colonel Yuri Medev and Jim Bergman of the FBI who must overcome political differences and work together to defeat a dangerous enemy - perhaps some of our politicians should read it to find out how. I have just finished the next Yuri Medev adventure entitled "The Kirov Conspiracy" due for release soon, while previously I wrote a couple of travel stories about various wonderful places such as New Zealand and the Swiss Alps. Aside from writing, travel has always been a big inspiration with hiking, biking and the outdoors taking up much of my time when I'm not looking after the kids. Thanks for visiting.
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130 Responses to Travels in New Zealand – Mt Ruapehu

  1. Pingback: In the Shadow of Mount Cook – a Walk to the Red Tarns | Tales from the Hills

  2. Spectacular images! I can’t get enough of cloud shots — that bank of clouds you captured is absolutely amazing…

    πŸ™‚

    Like

  3. conniewalden says:

    Beautiful photos. I feel cold and short of breath just looking at them. Thanks for sharing.
    Connie
    http://7thandvine.wordpress.com/

    Like

  4. Amazing light. Great pics. Many thanks for sharing these – one day I’ll get there, I keep promising myself

    Like

  5. Ruapehu’s a bit more active than you think – it last erupted in the 1990s!

    Like

  6. Bindu says:

    Blue and white, and white and blue – together they make such fabulous images! Great..

    Like

  7. Okay, that settles it…next vacation, I’m heading to N.Z.! Your photos are breath-taking! πŸ™‚

    Like

  8. WOW these are amazing N.Z is just sooo stunning
    I really hope to get there someday
    lovely post!
    (:

    Like

    • Pete Buckley says:

      Thanks for the comment – I’ve recently put another NZ post on about the Mt Cook area on South Island. Hope you get there!

      Like

  9. Hi Pete, Awesome pictures. New Zealand is a real beauty and a place kiwis are proud to call home. Were you aware that Ruapehu had major eruptions in 1995/1996 that caused major air traffic disruption and school closures as far away as Rotorua? She is still a very acitve and unpredictable part of the Pacific ring of fire. Thanks for featuring my home in your blog – makes me a wee bit homesick. janeykylescott.wordpress.com

    Like

  10. Cathy says:

    Earlier this day, I watched a travel show wherein they were in New Zealand. I think it’s a really nice place. I just can’t imagine how good their cheese and milk taste there πŸ™‚

    Like

  11. Dot Burgess says:

    Hi Pete,
    I live in Taupo NZ!
    My family used to live in the small township of Ohakune, which is at a little over 600 metres altitude. So I know the area quite well. The spectacular views etc. We were there when Mt Ruapehu erupted in 1995 and although it was a little scary, we couldn’t help but admire the power and the fury that ocurred then!
    It was really nice to stumble upon your blog of this area.
    I have just started out with wordpress.com and have designed a site for Taupo SeniorNet (technology learning for seniors 50+).
    Your blog site is great, I always enjoy reading the blogs on here!
    Cheers, Dot

    Like

    • Pete Buckley says:

      Hi Dot, thanks for the comment. We stayed in Taupo on the way here – I loved that view across the lake. Didn’t make it to Ohakune though – is that the far side of the mountain from Whakapapa?

      Like

  12. mattthomas44 says:

    Great post. Definitely an interesting read.

    Check out this site. It’s full of NHL 12 tips, strategies and team reviews.

    http://nhl-tips.com/

    Like

  13. All the photos are great, but I especially like that second to last one. Well done!

    Like

  14. Love the mountains and would love to go someday, though I have a long list for someday here: http://thejessicaness.wordpress.com/before-eternal-planking/
    I can definitely add this to the list. Love your about me and look forward to reading more of your blog. Congrats on being FP.

    Like

  15. twitchyfeet says:

    Fantastic Pete! I’m just writing about my experiences in New Zealand back in ’04 on my site http://www.twitchyfeet.org . Better late than never eh!

    Like

  16. Amazing. I travel across the north island for ten days in 2009. I saw Tongariro but did not get to do the mountain hike because of the weather while I was in town. New Zealand is definitely amazing. I have to get back to see the south island.

    Like

  17. So cool. Great photos, too.

    Like

  18. wow these images are amazing! Just wonderful….
    http://www.thecameraangle.wordpress.com

    Like

  19. Pingback: RESTFUL RIDGE AND MAUNGA NGARUAHOE – NEW ZEALAND « Horiwood's Blog

  20. Red Toenails says:

    Okay, I’m really a travel newbie. Didn’t know that New Zealand had snow!

    Like

  21. WOW!!! Great pics my friend… I like the one you are above the clouds. That’s surreal :-). By the way how did you add the section below “like this” into your post? The one that says (about Pete Buckley).

    Thanks!!!

    Like

  22. danielfee says:

    This trek is on my list of things to do. I have been to New Zealand twice but have not had time do this hike. We were only in Taupo one day and I went whitewater rafting that day. It just gives me another reason to go back to New Zealand. I just got back from Peru where we did a 5 day trek on Inca trails to Machu Piccu where we went over a 15,253 foot pass. 9177 feet sounds like a piece of cake πŸ™‚

    Like

  23. alvinpark says:

    beautiful…continue to inspire us!!!!

    Like

  24. Huffygirl says:

    I’ll be sure to watch out for the dodgy characters if I ever get up there. Unfortunately, “dodgy” is a cool word that we don’t get to use in the states. If we say it, no one knows what we mean. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed, from one dodgy character to another.

    Like

  25. Really gorgeous photos! And what a privilege to be able to explore the world that way. If you ever manage to get to India, you might be interested in checking out the Kashmir region…
    http://raxacollective.wordpress.com/2011/10/12/putting-kashmir-on-the-map/

    Congrats on the Fresh Pressing!

    Like

    • Pete Buckley says:

      Thanks for the comment. If I get to India I will certainly visit Kashmir – I have heard many good things and the scenery reminds me of the Alps. I just hope that the problems of that region can be sorted out peacefully.

      Like

  26. Milaap says:

    awesome shots !! Looks like heaven on earth !!
    πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Nice work Pete !!

    Like

  27. John zhao says:

    Such a country with glory…

    Like

  28. joahnadiyosa says:

    Super lovely photos! I shouldn’t miss such natural wonder. By all means, I should set my feet here someday. Or at least to anywhere as lovely as this one. Great post! ^^

    Like

  29. Great clear day!. Side note… Last eruption was 1996. My parents lived in Rotorua at the time, and had ash fall. Somewhere I have a bottle of it, scraped off their deck chairs..

    Like

    • Pete Buckley says:

      Hi Rachael and thanks for the comment. I’m updating the post so the last eruption date is right – a few people have said! Must have been fairly major as Rotorua is some way from Ruapehu! Thanks again – Pete.

      Like

  30. Stunning photos! . . . New Zealand has always been a place I would love to visit!!

    http://arabianmusings.wordpress.com/

    Like

  31. Love says:

    Wow. The pics are so b’ful. WAnna visit there.

    http://fluidwords.wordpress.com/

    Like

  32. Boyd says:

    Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe are classic, but are much more fun to snowboard down than to climb up. Check out Boyd-Blog for a glimpse into some 2011 NZ snowboard mountaineering down on the South Island.

    Like

  33. Pommi says:

    beautiful place, and the pics even more..
    maybe you shd visit Himalayas once….

    Like

  34. I am presently in Mali and your pictures make me realise that the world is made of such a variety of landscape and i guess peoples. I feel like being cold, its pretty hot in here.

    Like

  35. abichica says:

    OOh my gosh!!! the pictures are so beautiful.. πŸ˜€ that looks like a really nice place to visit.. πŸ˜€

    Like

  36. bandsmoke says:

    Wonderful fotos – we were in New Zealand in 1998, a place of spectacular and diverse beauty, congrats on FP πŸ™‚

    Like

  37. thoraaron says:

    Great pictures, and good job deciding to go to the top, that must have been a good time.

    not for tourists:
    http://www.cityarbiter.wordpress.com

    Like

  38. gaycarboys says:

    blimy that looks bloody cold! great shots so I’ll live the climb vicariously through you:)

    Like

  39. It was nice to revisit my home on a grey London day. Thanks for putting up the photos which say it all, really.

    Like

  40. Domino says:

    He Peter!

    What an amazing country no? I have worked there for a while and have my own tour running now in the awesome country. Mt. Ruapehu is just amazing! Ive been snowboarding several times and its just crazy to do this on an active volcano! I have to say, beautiful pictures, just wonderful. And I am very pleased to hear you really enjoyed New Zealand, definitely my favourite country!

    Kimi
    http://www.baconandeggstours.com/

    Like

  41. Jian says:

    Beautiful! I did the Tongariro last year and absolutely loved it. Was in summer though so not as much snow as you had there!

    Like

    • Pete Buckley says:

      How was the Tongariro? I’d planned to do that but with a chance to go up Ruapehu I had to go! I’ve not been in summer but I guess the snow has gone – apart from near the crater perhaps…

      Like

  42. Nora Weston says:

    Wow…what a trip! Those pics are amazing. πŸ™‚

    Like

  43. allison says:

    Beautiful pictures, beautiful country! Love it there. Thanks so much for sharing and congrats on Freshly Pressed!

    Like

  44. I think the bank of clouds image could make a good book cover. It’s really breath-taking.

    Like

  45. I love the blue skies in these images. What a trip this must have been

    Like

  46. Gema says:

    Incredible shots!! I visited New Zealand for about four hours on a lay-over flight from Australia where I spent 6 weeks doing some incredible outdoor adventures! I’m looking at joining my local writer’s club in Charlotte, NC and would love to hear about how you got started on your first book?

    Like

    • Pete Buckley says:

      Spent about the same amount of time in Brisbane on the way to Auckland. Would like to go there for longer too! I didn’t go with the idea of writing about it but just enjoyed the whole trip so much that I thought I’d like to share it. Took a while but I ended up with 31 Days in a Campervan.

      Let me know how you get on. Thanks Pete.

      Like

  47. farmacia says:

    Amazing photos, I will still visit New Zealand and skiing in these mountains. It’s a promise

    Like

  48. djronstar says:

    Wow
    Must be a skiers dream come true up there, are you allowed to ski / snow board?
    thanks
    -Ron
    http://www.learntobeatmatch.ca

    Like

    • Pete Buckley says:

      Hi Ron – yeah the Whakapapa ski area’s the biggest in NZ. There’s loads of skiers and boarders up there but if you want to go from the summit you need to hike up – the lift goes to about 2000 feet below the top. We rode down on avalanche shovels – that’s all in the story though. Thanks for the comment!

      Like

  49. Cal says:

    Hey Pete,
    Ever since Dia and I discovered the Lord of the Rings was filmed in New Zealand…we have wanted to go there. Your “link” to this land is a great one and hopefully one more step in our going there. So…thanks!
    Cal
    πŸ™‚

    Like

  50. Awesome shot of Mt Ngauruhoe. I love the view.

    Like

  51. I must say that your awesome photographer… and i love mountains.. specially when they are covered with snow…
    http://www.weightloseveryfast.com

    Like

  52. Kaitlin says:

    Oh wow! It’s gorgeous! I love the snow! Way to jump at the chance to climb that mountain!

    Like

  53. Beautiful pictures! I saw Mt Ruapehu from the Desert Road last summer, quite a different view!

    Like

    • Pete Buckley says:

      Hi Erin, just had a look at those photos – they’re cool too. It is different from that side – I had planned to go along the Desert Road but we never got there. One of NZ’s highest roads apparently? Thanks for the comment.

      Like

  54. sheokhanda says:

    the pics are just remarkable…….. I envy you for being there.. !

    Like

  55. B&S says:

    Awww… even as a NZer still living in NZ your pics make me home sick. So, so beautiful πŸ™‚

    Like

  56. wow! breath taking pictures! i want to see NZ!

    Like

  57. trialsinfood says:

    beautiful photos! would love to visit New Zealand someday!

    Like

  58. capedconstablecaleb says:

    That’s just incredible! My Aunt and Uncle live right across from Mt. Ruapehu and they can see it right on there porch! For a wedding present they painted and incredible portrait of it…it’s such a cool mountain.

    Like

  59. Wow great post, the photos make me so homesick! Thanks for this, I love stumbling upon peoples travels around New Zealand, we’re so fiercely proud and it’s great to hear what everybody else thinks of our landscape! πŸ™‚ Thanks again!
    http://thoughtsandrainstorms.wordpress.com/

    Like

    • Pete Buckley says:

      Hi and I’m glad you liked my post on Ruapehu. There wasn’t much I didn’t like about NZ – an amazing place! Thoughts and Rainstorms – what a cool title – and your writing is good too. I’ll read some more soon. All the best – Pete.

      Like

  60. Very interesting topic , regards for posting .

    Like

  61. Some really nice stuff on this site, I love it.

    Like

  62. I like your writing style genuinely loving this web site .

    Like

  63. israr says:

    very nice photossss>>>>>>>>>>>!
    http://www.omnibazar.com/

    Like

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