Mt. Te Aroha
On our first day, while enroute to Rotorua, we stopped in Te Ahora on the east coast and hiked to the top of Mt. Te Aroha, part of an ancient volcanic chain. The summit is very popular with local paragliders.
Along the trail on the way down from the summit I noticed some of the pohutukawa trees, commonly called Christmas trees by Kiwis. They flower in December with bright red blooms.
This is a lakeside scene taken while we were visiting an ancient Maori settlement along side Lake Rotorua
Rafting Competion, Kaituna River
On our way for an afternoon hike along the Waikato River we stopped for a short hike near Lake Rotorua to watch a international rafting competion as the teams practiced. I believe this is the Italian team rounding the corner.
Kayaker taking advantage of a break in the rafting competion. Here he is going over Okere Falls.
Ngati Rongomai Cultural Center
This afternoon and evening we were immersed in the Maori culture. These are totems of a sort near the main entrance. Later we enjoyed a traditional Maori feast.
A large section of the cultural center has constant geothermal activity as does most of the Rotorua area
Waikato River Hike
Lush vegitation along the Waikato River banks surrounding the crystal clear green water
I was surprised for find poppies blooming in NZ - it felt like I was back home in the spring
Tongariro Alpine Crossing
As our hike began we had a wonderful view of Mount Ruapehu in the distance
Wonderful early morning light along the trail
Our first good look at the NW flank of Mount Nguruhoe, otherwise known as Mount Doom to LOTR fans
After a short break at Soda Springs we begin our ascent along the north side of Mount Nguruhoe. What looks exactly like steam venting is actually just clouds forming.
A view back into the valley where we started the hike
A view of the trail and increasing cloudiness
A closer view of Mount Nguruhoe with several of the more recent lava flows visible on its north side
This is for you LOTR fans - I was tasked to deliver this ring to Mount Doom by my son. Alas, when the time came, I failed the task and kept the ring, my precious...
Crossing the south crater with Mount Nguruhoe in the background
Now at our half way point, Red Crater, this is a panoramic view from its rim
Detail shot of Red Crater - I guess the origin of its name is obvious