Posted by: Ross Gardner | May 24, 2018

Mount Doom!!!

Taranaki Trail (scaled)

A view of the woods and Tussock-land of Tongariro National Park, taken from above Taranaki Falls

The Big Trip was now orientated well and truly southwards as we continued our way, eventually to southern reaches of the South Island.  The North Island however, would continue to impress us for a little while yet.

Tongariro National Park, set fairly centrally on the North Island of New Zealand, is I suppose something of a taster for the mountainous wonders that await the traveller further on.  It is an area of upland and mountain that can appear almost incongruous.  All of a sudden, it seems, do the snowy ridges and peaks appear on the horizon.  A taster maybe, but a superb expanse of wild country this is in its own right.

Tongariro Mountains 7 (scaled)

Mount Ngauruhoe, aka Mount Doom.

Most of our time walking in the Park was spent on the Tama Lakes trail, a 14 kilometre hike across lonely tussock-land and beneath lofty, snow-topped mountains, not least the perfect volcanic cone of Mount Ngauruhoe, better known to ‘Lord of the Rings’ fans as Mount Doom.  The eponymous lakes are located in old volcanic explosion craters

This is haunt of skylark, introduced by British colonists to provide a taste of home and plentiful here.  What better sound than the drift of lark-song to ease the mind of its home-sickness?  As we walked the larks seemed only to share the tussocks with New Zealand Pipits (or Richard’s Pipit, as might be more familiar to British and European birdwatchers).  A mewing call and the dash of falcon wings, low between the slopes of a stream valley, told us that the small birds up here need to be wary.  This pair were the only New Zealand Falcon we would see on the whole NZ tour.

Richard's Pipit (scaled)

New Zealand or Richard’s Pipit (Anthus richardi).

Sigaus sp. TBI 4 (scaled)

Sigaus grasshoppers were commonplace among the tussocks


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