"Evil is stirring in Mordor"
Or that could just be just in our campervan after another meal of curry and noodles!
Well we finally made it to Mordor and now get to unleash a torrent of Lord of the Rings geeky comments that have been held back for weeks. To be more precise we made it to the Tongariro National Park which is lots of mountains and lakes and volcanic crators and volcanoes and rivers and ..... well you get the picture.
It's amazing that we've written so much about New Zealand so far and not mentioned the Lord of the Rings films as you can't swing a hobbit in New Zealand without hitting some location or other that was used in the film. In every town or city there is usually at least one tour to local Lord ofthe Rings locations none of which we went on mainly because all they take you to are rivers and fields and say "well that's where some orcs walked when they were marching to *****" in the second film and you just think well that could be anywhere really and "are we paying for this?".
Just so you know they have taken down the sets to Helms Deep and Minas Tirith (although Hobbitton is still around) so the only recognisable sight, to us anyway, is Mordor's Mount Doom and incidentally you may or may not know that they actually used two mountains as Mt Doom in the films, namely Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu.
Ignoring all that; the other thing the national park is famous for is the Tongariro Crossing which is a 17km walk up and down mountains (to almost 2000m) and is reputedly the best one day walk in New Zealand. Not that we can confirm this for you as we were once again thwarted by the weather and the crossing was closed due to high winds and very poor visability. The same went for the second day we were there and meant that we couldn't do it all nor could we do another lengthy walk up to some crator lakes, well we could have done it but we wouldn't have been able to see anything.
Instead we settled for a couple of the smaller walks which didn't go quite so high. The first was to a waterfall and the second and better one was down the Silica Rapids and around some of the park. On the second one we walked most of it for about two hours without seeing a single person and it really did feel like we were the only people for miles and miles which was a great feeling. The area was also used in Lord of the Rings I think just for some general 'running through fields' kind of shots and it really felt like you were there.
We got some phots off of the mountains that were used as Mt Doom, I say mountains by the way but they are actually volcanoes most of them at least one of which is still active and tends to have little eruptions every few years or so, the last big one being in 1995 which was three months of ash spurting and rock spewing fun . Sadly no such excitment for us just some wind and rain but it was still awesome just to stand so close to them and to feel so open to the elements and truly alone.
Truly alone for about two hours anyway until we got back to the village and had something to eat. There is something about the national parks and great walks that attracts strange loners. In the caravan park we were making something to eat and someone else had put the telly on to watch the weather or something and the next thing we know some angry fat American (sorry Janis but thanks for reading) woman was striding across to us and having a pop for disturbing her reading peace and quiet although why she went to a kitchen for peace and quiet is anyone's guess. Probably as she needed to graze every 12 minutes and it was just easier. Not really relevant to the area that but thought you should get a snapshot of the campervanning life we lead!
As we left the area we did try and drive up to a viewpoint almost 2000m up to get some quality photos of the Park but unfortunately that put us slap bang in the middle of cloud level and we couldn't see a thing. Except that is for a minbus that arrived in the car park ten minutes after us, with about eight middle aged tourists in the back, pissing oil everywhere with the engine sending out lengthy smoke signals. "Quick lets go before they ask us to help them" said Rhiannon charitably. So we did; and they are still there for all we know.