Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Climbing Mt Doom

Jan 7th. In the central region of North Island lie the Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro volcanoes. The latter two are close together, and the day walk across the saddle connecting the two is known as the Tongariro Crossing.

Mt Ngauruhoe, also known as Mt Doom

Mt Ngauruhoe made its film debut as Mt Doom in the Lord of the Rings movies. The fields around it are dark and rocky; even though it is summer, very little plants would grow on it. Yes, Morder, no surprise of course.

On top of Mt Tongariro, looking over Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu

Two interesting side trips are possible from the saddle: the one going to the Tongariro summit, and the other to the top of Ngauruhoe, Mt Doom himself. I made for the Tongariro summit as this had the best views over Mt Doom (and was the easier one), and indeed reached it.

A dark yellow, cursed lake. Sulphur? Better not drink it!

Geology also became increasingly more interesting. The rocks have many different colors: besides black, gray and white, I also found red, yellow, blue and even purple stones. And the lakes around here are not only in blue, but also in dark yellow. And one crater rim was almost entirely colored dark red, quite creepy.

White smoke rising from one of the craters

From several places, kind of white smoke was coming out of the earth. Yes, this represented volcanic activity and boiling liquids. There were warning signs everywhere, and my campsite also was in an increased lahar risk zone. If one volcano would erupt, the campsite could be devasated by it. I was not impressed, though, and completed the crossing and stayed two nights at the campsite.

A helpful tour operator looking at my car

Back at the car, I found out that the double-V belt had slipped of again! For the second time in seven days. The next day a mechanic fixed it, and suggested that one pulley's bearing was getting weary and needed to be replaced. But replacement parts for French cars are scarce, and a new pulley bearing would have to be ordered from France, taking three weeks! Panic, crisis? Not for me, I'd rather call it a challenge.

I knew I was taking risks when I bought my car, and was determined to finish the journey with it anyhow. So I drove to an engineering shop in Ohakune and bought the tools necessary to mount the belt myself. I also needed a bolt with certain dimensions that the shop didn't have, but they were kind enough to wield one bolt specifically for me. Now I could put the belt back and adjust its tension, if necessary. Hoppa, keep on rollin'!

Photo gallery here!

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