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  • Writer's pictureJenny

Days 111-114 Owhanga to Whakapapa village

Day 111 ~ Walked: 23 km ~ Start: Owhanga ~ End: 42 Traverse (km 1097)

Neither of us knew anything about the 42 Traverse, despite hearing of it often over the years. I was hoping there’d be some signage explaining what the 42 referred to as it didn’t seem to be the latitude or the distance. But nothing. Also I was expecting a forest tramping track but it was a dry dusty gravel 4wd track the whole way.

Just after starting there was a 5 minute side track to a lagoon which we took. It’s easy to be enthusiastic about these things first thing in the morning. Any detours after lunch are not even contemplated. This one probably didn’t rate as being worthwhile.

It was nice seeing some abundant rivers. Firstly the Whakapapa which we crossed by bridge.

Also the Whanganui river which we had a view over to.

There were lots of stream crossings on the map but only the named ones were flowing. We were pretty happy that we’d have access to water for our evening and next day.

The scenery was pretty average with most of the roadside vegetation quite weedy and scrubby.

Lunch break

It was quite hilly but the steepness was not as dramatic as the sign at the start indicated.

We walked from right to left camping by Waione stream

The original native forest was regenerating slowly since the milling of native timber finished in the 1970s. We saw a lot of Kereru who were feasting on the Rata.

A local was driving by and stopped to chat so we got our question about what the 42 referred to answered. The forest was originally named Forest number 42 in the milling days. Well that was an anticlimax.

As we were freedom camping we started looking for spots 1km before the stream we were targeting as our evening water source. There were lots of ‘possibles’ and ‘at a pinch’. Then 10m from the stream we spotted a perfect little secret tunnel to a nice little spot with its own little path to the stream.

And the stream was heaven, with a swimming hole, beach and nice big warm rocks to lie on to dry off. Bliss.

Day 112 ~ Walked: 16 km ~ Start: 42 Traverse ~ End: Tongariro (km 1113)

The Waione stream that we’d camped next to was the first ’wet feet’ crossing in a while but we even avoided that by crossing before putting our shoes on for the day.

After the stream crossing we left the 42 traverse and went onto the Waione Coker track. This was also classified as a 4wd track but was much narrower.

The track itself was clear but the overhanging vegetation was a constant battle to get through.

It was mainly grasses and ferns but also a lot of blackberry, gorse and bush lawyer. The latter attacking me on the left as I was avoiding a piece on the right.

Savage. It kept things interesting though and time seemed to go quite fast.

Blackberry thorns aren’t pleasant but at least they’re a great snack. We’ve been eating these daily since we first came across them back in Huntly.

We did have an actual wet feet stream crossing at morning tea time, but in this weather it’s so pleasant.

I didn’t expect the soft mud on the track though.

Lucky these shoes are due for replacement soon

Towards the end we got our first view of Tongariro and Ngāuruhoe that we’re climbing tomorrow. They’re quite spectacular up this close.

We also read up on the history of the area during the wars at some historical redoubts.

Just before coming out onto SH47 we crossed over the Whanganui river as marked on the bridge. I checked on the map and it did say that it was as well but I’m still a bit confused as to how it connects to the one we’ve seen coming down from TaumarunuI.

Day 113 ~ Walked: 24 km ~ Start: Tongariro ~ End: Mangatapopo hut (km 1137)

Tongariro crossing day.

We eagerly rechecked the weather forecast on waking, both online and out the window. There had been heavy rain warnings as the weather bomb was moving across the country. The forecast was saying morning cloud with rain from midday, possibly heavy. We decided to go and take our chance. If we could get over and down from the red crater before rain we’d be happy. Although I was looking forward to seeing all the views, we’d done the crossing five years ago on a perfect sunny day so I could cope with missing them this time. I’d even dug out those photos to supplement todays if need be.

Crossing five years ago

The tongariro holiday park owner had offered us a lift to the start as he was heading there anyway to shuttle walkers from their cars back to their starting point (we were doing it in reverse to the recommended). We were a bit nervous when he told us the shuttle company he delivers for had cancelled today’s crossings on account of the weather. But he took us anyway.

Sure - let’s do this the hard way, and with a fully loaded pack

We started of into the mist, climbing up, up and up. It was very pleasant walking apart from the continual ascent, but it wasn’t to steep.

Well worn path - a lot of traffic to wear down that wood

The scenery was other worldly spectacular. And once we got above the tree line the clouds lifted and light ones just drifted in and out. It was perfect as was a comfortable climbing temperature.

North crater with Ngāuruhoe peeking out behind

North crater with red crater and Ngāuruhoe behind and Ruapehu in distance

Two of the emerald lakes

Third emerald lake with cloud starting to roll in

Scree track winding up on the left

Red crater

Climbing up the scree wasn’t too bad with poles. Definitely a lot easier than for those coming down judging by their comments. Most were terrified of it. For us coming down from the red crater was harder. It was a clay rocky path and with the steepness and dust, quite slippery. I fell twice. Thank goodness the rain was still holding off at this point, that would have made it quite treacherous.

Heading down from red crater

South crater and Ngāuruhoe

Once we got down and into the south crater and didn’t care if it started raining from here on, we set up for our ‘2000’ photo shoot. We ticked over our 2000km mark today. It took us almost 3 months for our first 1000, and only 5 weeks for the second 1000. So bring on the last 1000 to finish.

From here it was an easy 5km or so to our hut.

Going down the devils staircase is a lot easier than up.

We were surprised to see a few small groups still heading up from here. It was about 2 pm and they had 5-6 hours ahead of them with rain on the way. Sure enough the rain started shortly after we arrived at the hut. Perfect timing for us. The hut had been fully booked being the Saturday of a long weekend, but with cancellations the full hut of 20 was now only 9 making it quite comfortable. The others were all doing the circuit.

This is our first hut that has had a warden on-site so our first experience of the hut talk that he gave at 5-30. After the info sharing he then told us two Māori stories. The first the story of the mountains, and the second of the origin of the haka. He was a great storyteller. He also cleared up the Whanganui river mystery for me. The river we crossed yesterday was closer to the source (Tongariro), and it then travels north to Taumarunui before then turning and travelling south to Whanganui. This trips doing wonders for my geography.

Day 114 ~ Walked: 9 km ~ Start: Mangatapopo hut ~ End: Whakapapa village (km 1146)

We’d booked to stay at the Chateau several days ago even though it meant having a short day. I’d been thinking we could do a little side trip to Taranaki falls in the other half of the day. But with the heavy rain forecast it was perfect just for a short walking day only, and then half a day of rest, relaxing eating and drinking.

There’d been heavy rain ever since arriving at the hut yesterday afternoon but around 8am it was easing up. So we geared up for getting wet and set off.

Within a couple of minutes it stopped altogether and then held off for the duration of our walk.

The hut ranger said there were numerous streams but they should all be passable. It looked like the rain had completely soaked in, as there was very little surface water and the stream beds were all completely dry still. Even the streams that had actual bridges over them were still dry. All until the river that flowed from the Taranaki Falls (that we’ll visit another day).

The walk was very easy going through colourful low plants.

Always exciting to see the nights hut come into view

Leisha, a friend from home had messaged to say they were in Ohakune for the weekend and they might pop by to have a coffee with us. I was going to message her once we arrived. So we were very surprised to emerge from the track and see her and Grant waving to us from the windows. It was so exciting.

Leisha’s photo of us when we spotted them

We settled straight in to a coffee, then lunch.

Then they decided to book a room as well so we can have drinks and dinner later on. Such a treat for us. And speaking of treats, look what they brought for us. So spoilt.

Day 111 ~ Walked: 23 km ~ Start: Owhanga ~ End: 42 Traverse (km 1097)

Day 112 ~ Walked: 16 km ~ Start: 42 Traverse ~ End: Tongariro (km 1113)

Day 113 ~ Walked: 24 km ~ Start: Tongariro ~ End: Mangatapopo hut (km 1137)

Tongariro crossing

Day 114 ~ Walked: 9 km ~ Start: Mangatapopo hut ~ End: Whakapapa village (km 1146)

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Feb 20, 2022

Hey Jenny & Gee, sorry, I'm a bit behind on the viewing, as I've seen you since this part of the adventure. Gee the site wouldn't let me comment on your Taumarunui blog, but I did read it. Heard so much about the Tongaririo crossing, over the years and you've done such a great job with the photos and trail map, don't think I have to do it now... Nasty bit of stabbing from the Blackberrys Jenny just as well you're used to dealing with the elements. It was interesting how much the 4wd track was overgrown. Very flash "hut" to come to at the end.


Rhonda Scott
Rhonda Scott
Feb 06, 2022

I would hardly call the Chateau a hut lol. But also doesn't look as grand as I remember it.

Feb 06, 2022
Replying to

That was the side view as we came from the track. It’s a bit more impressive from the front. It’s still quite old style grand on the inside.

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