2008-01-29. The Tongario Crossing. Day Thirteen.

The Tongario Crossing is located just south of Torangi and is in the central North Island of New Zealand. The track of 18.5 miles is said to take 7-9 hours depending on your ability to overcome difficult climbing trails. The group of 18 students divided into to groups. The plan was to have a van at each parking lot on both sides of the track and to meet somewhere in the middle. Our group started at the Mangatepopo Car Park. The route took us through the moon-field and up to Mt. Doom.

We were met at the car park by rangers whom were loading helicopters with materials that were being flown into the track in order to do trail work. I walked through the moon field enchanted with the scenery waiting for the opportunity to photograph the large volcano without clouds at its peak.

As I fell behind the group I found the time to notice the lichens and mosses growing on the volcanic rock that made up this part of the plateau.

I have visited active volcanos in other travels that I have had to Costa Rica however my experience with the central American portion of the ring of fire was interesting however very different from this experience. Unlike Costa Rica, the New Zealanders allow you to climb the active volcanos if you dare to. Its full on, the smell of sulfur wafts everywhere, boiling pools of volcanically heated water is right there for you to experience and you could even dive into a crater if you have that on your itinerary. It is not controlled or protected in such a way that a shopping mall or amusement park is organized yet it is a challenge by choice experience that could viably kill you.