Our students, led by Dr Rock (aka David Reeder), are currently hiking the Tongariro Crossing which is considered by many to be NZ's premier day hike. The hike is 19kms long and passes by Mounts Ngauruhoe and Tongariro, two of the volcanoes in Tongariro National Park. Along the way there are views to Mount Ruapehu the third volcano in the park. The hike is expected to take our group 6-8 hours taking in stunning vistas such as those from Mangatepopo Saddle, and passing by volcano created phenomena such as South and Red Craters, Emerald Lakes, Blue Lake, Ketetahi Springs and the Te Mahi vent. Elevation gain for the hike is about 2400 feet, and elevation drop about 3600 feet. This is a spectacular hike and hopefully some of our students will write eye witness accounts of their experiences.
Prior to Tongariro, we spent three hard working days at waka camp near Haruru Falls which is near the Waitangi Treaty grounds in the Bay of Islands. Camp time was spent in drills learning to respond to the commands of the kaihatu or waka captains, and also learning the chants, songs and haka that are an integral part of paddling a Maori waka. The day prior to NZ's national day, Waitangi Day, our boys joined 60 indigenous paddlers to launch and then paddle the national waka Ngatokimatawhaourua, as practice for the waka spectacle of Waitangi Day which featured 13 waka. Our boys impressed with their drills and effort on practice day, and were invited to be crew and performers for Waitangi Day in front of thousands of spectators. This was a huge honor to be so involved, and I hope many of you have seen the NZ Herald video posted earlier by David. Our girls also drilled and were able to paddle a waka in practice, but were not able to paddle on Waitangi Day as seats were not available. However, they were given the honor of performing kapahaka on Te Tii Beach as waka came and went from the beach front. These days at waka camp were long and draining, and these were not experiences that can be bought. It was a huge honor to be involved and the depth of the experiences will be with our students for a long time to come.
After we helped with the chores of cleaning up waka camp on February 7th, we made the long drive to Taupo where we enjoyed a day of rest and recuperation on February 8th, before driving to Tongariro for the hike now in progress.
Aroha to all.
|Driving to the mountain - Tongariro creates its own weather!|
Walking to the mountain - Ngauruhoe (Mt Doom) still in clouds
|Walking across the South Crater - "It felt like walking on Mars"|
|Ngauruhoe showed itself for a brief moment and then wrapped back into its blanket of clouds|
|Packing up to head over the Red Crater summit|
The Red Crater held our group speechless for several moments when we first crested the ridge
photo credit: Alexa Licata
|The Red Crater|
|This is one of New Zealand's most famous treks|
|Grace found a good spot to take in the view|
|On the descent looking out to Lakes Rotoaira and Taupo in the distance|