Introducing Mordor – This Is Why You Should Visit Tongariro National Park

Emerald Lakes Tongariro National Park

For those ones who read and are totally mad about Lord Of The Rings, I think I don’t need to explain what Mordor is. But for those ones who live in oblivion of one of the greatest fantasy literal stories let me explain it as one of the most popular darkest fantasy land of all times.
No one would like to be there, it is ruled by the ruthless, bloodthirsty king Sauron who wants to enslave all Middle-earth and set the dark age – the kingdom of the evil.
The land itself is looking horrifying already from distance, lifeless, painful place of misery for any kind of creature. Only Sauron and his fiendish servants inhabit this cruel land, torturing slaves and planning invasions to fight the good enemy and take control over all Middle-earth.

Mt. Ngauruhoe
Mt. Ngauruhoe

Mordor with majesty Mt Doom – a place which shivers your spine when you read about it or watch a movie.
And yet, tourists from all over the world is taking a long journey to the “end of the world” to undergo a bit dangerous advanced alpine crossing to see this unforgettable place.
Yes, it is a real place on Earth, but paradoxically probably one of the most beautiful things you’ve ever seen in your life.
Would you believe that while you are watching it in movie, it’s scaring and dark, but when you see it on your own eyes it’s pleasurable instead?
Let’s have a small virtual tour with us to Tongariro National Park to be justified that this place is another one thing in your bucket list!

Active Volcanic Area And One Of The Best Tramping Tracks In The World

Tongariro National Park is the oldest national park in New Zealand. Situated in the middle of North Island, it is formed by three volcanic mountains Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro located in the middle of park.
Mount Ngauruhoe is that special mountain which has been filmed in movie Lord Of The Rings as the famous Mt Doom – residence of the dark king Sauron.

The fact that this National Park lies on active volcanic area enhances the scary feeling from this place even if you’re not at the movie.
This volcanic area is still alive, and thus there is a chance of volcanic eruption, that is why this place is monitored. Some places along tracks are marked as hazardous area and are recommended to walk fast and not stop there, but don´t worry, tracks are controlled and chances something serious can happen are low.
These mountains have also great significance at Maori culture and all of three summits are sacred.
If you are interested here is a link about Maori legend about this subject:
Maori Legend of Mounts Ruapehu and Taranaki

There are many tracks and walks in and around Tongariro National Park, however the most popular and spectacular track is Tongariro Alpine Crossing – advanced tramping track with distance 19,4 km and walking time around 7,5 hours.

A HDR image of landscape created by Radoslav Cajkovic- Radocation

Maleficent Mt. Doom

We really wanted to pass Alpine crossing but Mt. Doom seemed to be maleficent at us and always tried to spoil our plans. No, just kidding!
But really we tried 2 times to go on that track but we’ve been successful on the third time at last.

First we started and walked about 2km and then we had to turn back because weather looked creepy, was raining and there was possibility of floods, we haven’t been prepared for this yet.

By the way, about one week after our first attempt there was a small eruption and tourists had to be evacuated from all tracks.

Second time we prepared on the track but started snowing next day.
So finally we made it on third time! And it was something.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing starts early in the morning, we started at 7am. It was freezing night and morning, we slept in nearby DOC camp in our Van and after we got up we had moved to nearby Whakapapa village to catch the shuttle bus (must be booked). We left a car in village and bus drove us to the start point of the track called Mangatepopo.


We got off the bus and freezing breeze blowed into our sleepy faces. Ok, were not continue unless I will have my cup of coffee! I poured warm coffee from thermos to our portable cups and felt happy for this little miracle called caffeine.

We started to walk towards the Mt. Ngauruhoe. Track was good, no climbing, only vast straight surface of volcanic land covered by something what looks like tundra.
We didn’t walk a lot when suddenly my husband turned aside of track heading to the small swamp, putting out his camera from backpack. Here we go again, we didn’t even pass 1km and he already starts taking pictures.
That’s all him, but in fact that’s what I love on him, his never-ending passion attempting to capture perfection, sense and life, no matter what is the situation or condition.
And I’m often really nervous because I’m afraid we will ran out of time and wont get it on time.

We moved on and as were coming towards Soda Springs surface started to rise gradually. Tundra has changed to a rough volcanic area consisting only from dark brown and red rocks and a volcanic ash.

Tongariro Crossing

Climbing followed and I must admit that climbing is a bit annoying part of a tramping for me, because I’ve got to stop often to take a breath.

As we have been rising higher, snow started to show around us and track surface was icy. It was quite dangerous, few times I almost slipped, and if I would slipped it would be very long and harmful falling down. I’ve got hiking shoes, but what about these crazy people who is walking this track in jeans and sneakers??

Note That You Are Going Tramping Not On Fashion Show

Well, we’ve been right with our concerns regarding some tourists underestimated this track because soon we’ve seen one girl sliding down on her but looking very upset. I asked her if she’s alright but didn’t look she wants our help. She probably just fell down and hit something, but nothing serious.

Another German guy wasn’t so lucky, when he attempted to cross this alpine track in shorts! and sneakers. He slipped and fall down, broke his leg and got hypothermia. Emergency helicopter must have helped him to get to the hospital.

When we got on the highest peak of the track to the Red Crater, strong wind shocked me. We had to stop and have a quick lunch but as soon as I stopped moving I was freezing.
The view was absolutely spectacular though. See for yourself.

Above the Clouds

After lunch we took pictures and then one little problem occurred. I really needed to pee but there wasn’t any toilet on reach for sooo long and I couldn’t wait.
What should I have done? I simply sprinkled Mt Doom haha.
I’m not saying I’m proud of it, you know I’m not that kind exhibitionist, and there were lots of people nearby and nowhere to hide. But you gotta when you gotta.

Then we finally have been prepared to go, after few metres of climbing we have been stopped by the most breath-taking view on this track – Emerald Lakes – the absolute highlight of all trip.
When you are looking at all of this from the peak, you just can’t believe such a beautiful scenery can be seen on the planet Earth. Actually this is how I imagine the surface of Mars might look like.
Massive wildly shaped brown and crimson cliffs and mountains, on active volcanic area with emitting steam and typical sulphur dioxide gas smell.

Closer To God

But the sky is bright blue and closer than ever. You’ve got feeling that when you stretch arm up you can reach it.
After so much effort I’m standing here and suddenly I feel that everyday worries are so meaningless. Nothing really matters, because we are here with our lives temporary but this place will be here hundreds of years without any doubt. We humans always insist on our being on this planet and simultaneously taking this right away to the nature. And if we think there is something what matters in our lives, it’s definitely not what we think right now.
I felt I’m closer to God.

A HDR image of landscape created by Radoslav Cajkovic- Radocation

Me and my hubby spent so much time adoring this view and taking pictures that we finally ran out of time.
We supposed to be at Ketetahi Road – end of track at 3pm, however we knew it’s not possible to make it within 2 hours. So we walked very fast.
Track was decreasing rapidly, it wasn’t very good on our knees, but we had to walk quick, sometimes run.

We got to our meeting point half an hour late, shuttle bus has waited for us luckily, and we have been delighted that we finally made it for the third time.
We defeated Tongariro Alpine Crossing!

A HDR image of landscape created by Radoslav Cajkovic- Radocation

A HDR image of landscape created by Radoslav Cajkovic- Radocation
© 2015 Independent Couple
All pictures taken by my husband Radoslav Cajkovic unless stated otherwise and are subject to copyright.

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