Motor home to Middle earth – Part 5

April 3, 2009


1st – 3rd April



The Grand Chateau, with Mount Ruapehu as a perfect backdrop, looks like the hotel in ‘The Shining’ and hosted the LOR filming. . We pretended we were residents as we drank and took photos. W e booked the van in at Whakapapa (bear  in mind that ‘Wh’ is pronounced as ‘F’ here and you will see why people giggle as they say it.).

Past here, the road to Mordor was perilous indeed. It started deceptively like The Shire with greenery and foliage  but all too soon the barren landscape of pumice stones, soldered to the purple grey, ashy soil made climbing difficult. Steep ridges and pinnacles with sheer drops added to the danger and  Meads Wall was especially scary. We rested there briefly,  preparing  mentally and physically for the assault on Mount Doom.


It loomed above the Tongariro Alpine Crossing  (described as ‘The Best Day Hike in New Zealand) , a volcano with cloudless blue sky…Mount Ngauruhoe (only nobody calls it that any more!) The walk was demanding, exhilarating and 13 miles of  stunning scenery. We ignored the signs about noxious gases issuing from the volcano and  climbed half way up Mount Doom (which, to be fair, was all that Frodo and Sam did). It was so   hard – like walking up a steep sand dune of thick volcanic ash sprinkled with  pumice stones of all shapes and sizes. We got half way up and   2 boulders (of lethal size) bounced merrily past us, unleashed by two young men who were ’skiing’ back down. We ‘skied’ back down too – it was fun but hell on the knees. Back to the walk – Red Crater, a gigantic work of abstract art in ochre, terracotta, umber and crimson – wow! Emerald Lakes – stunning. sky lines and views – wonderful. Smells of sulphur and heat eruptions – amazing!

red crater

Frodo and Sam had eagles whisking them away from Mount Doom, we  weren’t so lucky. The path was long, studded with luminescent  greenery in hot springs  but was eventually interminable. Notices warned that we should be aware of ‘sensitive, sub alpine plants’ and stick to the path. We walked miles  advising the plants that they were strong and beautiful and should not feel ‘below standard‘ we even gave assertiveness training.  By the end of our weary  helter-skelter they were feeling much better about themselves and prepared to take positive criticism. We, however, were knackered.


The Mangawhero Falls are below Mount Ruapehu and  any passer by would have seen two almost senior citizens playing with a large sliver of carrot and pretending to be Sméagol catching his fish in the pool there. Fortunately we were alone. We were also alone in our Private Pool in the thermal spa where we soaked in the mineral spring. Some like it hot!

catching fish


3 Responses to “Motor home to Middle earth – Part 5”

  1. gill hartley Says:

    Dyllis how do you do it! Now I have been there It is so real. You are fullfilling your quest…middle earth and beyond…love it

  2. Rachel Says:


    Got the e-mail. Everyone is well. Dad and Mum are settled in their new home – they have gutted it completely and it is just them now.

    Photographs are stunning!!!

    Looking forward to next chapter.


  3. emily smithson Says:

    hi hi hi! popped north for easter and finally managed to access link paul gave thru facebook! Sounds like you’re both having a fantastic time (if not a little perilous on occassion!) and reading your blog has had me chuckling no end.
    Take care of yourselves and have lots more fun!
    See you both soon

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