Tuesday 18th – start of the Tongariro Northern Circuit!

Not sure when we woke up, but it was light! After a now traditional breakfast of peanut butter and jam sandwiches along with amazing coffee
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it was time for the last shower for several days, to pack up the tent, fill up the camelback and head out in an adventure (I had the distinct feeling of a Wilderness Explorer about me)

It was about 10am when we set out, we went via the DOC (Department of Conservation) office to check on the weather (not that you can really trust the NZ weather reports, they change on an hourly basis)

The weather for the next couple of days was reportedly fine. And with the sun shining we weren’t going to argue with them. Two minutes down the road we were both distracted by a lovely looking cafe and the thought of one last coffee before truely heading off was too strong to resist!

I texted George back at the Sunflower Lodge and asked him to be our ‘panic if we don’t reappear by Friday’ guy – he loves drama so would be perfect! It was here my phone died, so was fingers crossed he’d say yes!!!

Two long blacks later and a quick wee, this was it, on our way to the start of the Northern Circuit, first stop Mangatepopo hut.

Was a lovely 3hr walk, some good hills, great undulations, interesting scenery and vegetation and gave us a taste as to what was to come over the next few days. There was a lot of erosion which I think explained the bridges and steps that had been built. There was also a lot of insects, flies and the hopping variety, birds and interesting looking moss.

We arrived at the hut at lunchtime and were met by the hut warden, Rachel, she was super chatty telling us about what she does, the route, how she got here and her future plans – to go to Malaysia – we were soon nattering away! She then went off to boil some water – extra for us and a coffee!! We also discovered that the moss and heather had been introduced by a Scotsman who’d wanted to introduce grouse hunting to NZ, so he started with the plants which grew really well, introduced the grouse…. They all promptly died!

The hut was fab with a lovely deck area in the sunshine (30 degrees Celsius at 3pm!), but with some shade too. We had a nice spot to camp in, views of sunset and far enough from the hut for peace and quiet!

One of the biggest excitements was to discover that the loos had toilet paper!!!

More people arrived, chatted to random strangers, cooked dinner, dehydrated veg was surprisingly tastey – not sure if a result of the walk or actual yumminess…..

We sat and watched the sunset, on a clear night we should have seen Mt Taranaki, but it wasn’t to have been tonight.

Went to bed around 9pm, Rachel’s advice was an early start – there was a big ridge to climb over tomorrow and wanted to get it over with before the sun rose over it at around 8am…… But not before explaining to an american why when Rachel mentioned M&S did free shipping to NZ we were both so over excited and the amazing fact that London within the M25 could fit within Lake Taupo, that’s how big it is!

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