We caught the early morning ferry across to Wellington and drove around the posh suburbs as the weather was glorious again. We drove along the west coast and stopped off at a few beaches before setting up camp for the night. We headed to Whanganui and then drove the river road up to Tongariro National park. The river road had a nice walk, where we had to calmly stroll past a massive bull and avoid a lot of sheep poo. The views along the road were a little disappointing as the bush was so high we couldn't see a lot for most of the time. It was a nice detour and better than a boring straight road.
We went into the iSite in Whakapapa and found that we could drive and park in the national park. It had previously been closed due to volcanic activity. We were told that it was the first weekend it had been opened and we would have to get there early to secure a parking spot. We got up at 5:15am and were parked in the car park along with a lot of other people by 5:30! The other people were eating breakfast and getting ready to start their walk, James and I had a little nap and started just a few hours later! The walk to the lagoons was a well tracked out path with a lot of people enjoying the weather and the walk during the weekend. We walked at a fast pace, and got a good view of the lagoons and the red crater. The clouds started to come over during midday but we wanted to climb Mount Doom so had a sandwich, finished the powerade (a mistake to have finished this so early) and we were off. We had been walking for around 1 hour and met some guys coming down, the clouds were so heavy that we hadn't seen the top since starting the walk. They said we had about 40 minutes left, we were thirsty and tired and knew that the last ½ hour was almost vertical and full of rubble we were losing heart. Suddenly a gust of wind blew over head and a small spot of light was visible; we could see the top. This spurred us on and managed to get to the top in a total time of 1 ½. It was quite demoralising for the last 15 minutes as every four steps/crawl you made you slid down three, but we made it and dispersed of the ring finally! We had a short rest at the top and the clouds parted again so we could see some of the fabulous view right across to the lagoons. The journey down was not something I was looking forward to as I hate the feeling of not being in control. We took the shingle route down and the start was a bit dangerous with us both falling over a lot, in fact I think during the first 10 minutes I was only on my feet for around 2! We got a bit bashed and had a few cutes on our legs but the worst injury went to my socks as a ripped a massive hole in the side, better than my skin I suppose! When we got the hang of it and the incline reduced a bit we were having great fun 'surfing' the rocks. By the time we got to the bottom we were covered in dirt and so exhausted. We had finished our water and had a 2 hour walk back to the car. It was all worth it and we got to Taupo thinking we were really fit and tough and saw hundreds of people completing an Iron Man competition, we didn't feel as fit anymore!