December – March 2015 – Hut Rangering in the Tongariro National Park – Round the Mountain track

December saw the start of 3 amazing months of me being a hut ranger in Tongariro National Park on the Round the Mountain Track.

Hut Rangers 2014/15
Hut Rangers 2014/15

This involved walking into the huts with 7 days worth of food, staying at the hut for a week, keeping it clean, checking people were paying to stay there, meeting loads of fascinating people, seeing my first gun, taking 1000s of photos, learning how to light a fire, overcoming my fear of swing bridges and when all that was done, spending my time enjoying the amazing beauty of the National Park. We spent Monday-Monday in the huts before walking out to fresh food, a shower and clean clothes, only to return the following Monday.

We had a really fun weekend of training at the end of November, it was great getting to know all the other rangers – actually meet who we’d be talking with over the radios over the next few months

Me, Erin and Ruapehu
Me, Erin and Ruapehu
Mt Doom at sunset. or to give him his official name, Mount Ngauruhoe
Mt Doom at sunset. or to give him his official name, Mount Ngauruhoe

Everyone had their favorite hut to stay in, I’m torn between 2, my least favorite was Blyth Hut – I cut my leg open falling over in a stream on the way there, there was a sign saying you’re 5 minutes away that’s clearly wrong, people thought it was haunted. Although you did get the most amazing views of Mount Taranaki and there was a great waterfall there too!

I still have the scar
I still have the scar
Mount Taranaki
Mount Taranaki
Me and Kevin
Me and Kevin

For me the walk to Rangipo was the hardest – a major swing bridge to cross (I hate these) and you’re in the middle of a lahar path (something I’d never heard of until my ranger training!). The drop-off point is the most remote, down a desert track and up into the middle of no where, also you don’t see the hut from afar, the route undulates until suddenly the hut is right there in front of you – a very welcome sight! It has the most amazing sunsets and sunrises and a wonderful deck for lying and gazing at the endless stars

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What you can't see if the thundering river underneath
What you can’t see if the thundering river underneath
The drop-off point for the walk to Rangipo
The drop-off point for the walk to Rangipo
What else to do on a cloudy morning with no overnight guests?
What else to do on a cloudy morning with no overnight guests?

The two I’m torn between are Whakapapaiti – the first hut is stayed in and Mangaehuehu – the last. Whakapapaiti has the shortest walk into it (from the Bruce Road) and also a longer walk out to the village with just the small matter of an unbridged river to cross…..

Waterfall, handy for lunch and the odd dip
Waterfall, handy for lunch and the odd dip

I love the view from the ranger quarters, the river, the little waterfalls you can walk to, the fact I heard a kiwi there one night. Although I did also fall over here, bash into a tree branch and got a massive bruise and bruised my hand chopping wood……..

One side of the river to the other
One side of the river to the other

On my last trip into the huts I spent a couple of nights at Rangipo before walking round to Mangaehuehu.

View from the window
View from the window

I was nervous about the walk having heard there were some pretty steep bits, but I was pleasantly surprised by the route and as ever the scenery was amazing. The hut itself had 360 views, the ranger quarters have 180 views out across the valley – I loved it and to be honest was a bit gutted I’d not been sooner

Sunset on my last night
Sunset on my last night
Nearly out, but still one more bridge
Nearly out, but still one more bridge
The start of sunrise on my last morning
The start of sunrise on my last morning
The end of my summer in Tongariro
The end of my summer in Tongariro

It was a truly amazing experience, so lucky not to have found a ‘proper’ job giving me the chance to spend 3 months in a place of such beauty. If you ever get the chance to volunteer with DOC – do it! There are some unmissable opportunities out there

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One thought on “December – March 2015 – Hut Rangering in the Tongariro National Park – Round the Mountain track

  1. Pingback: What have I been up to in the last 12 months? | emma ross rows

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