Wandering around the Central Plateau, New Zealand
A few weekends ago I thought it was time to go wandering around the Central Plateau, New Zealand. The shortest route to my destination at the Chateau Tongariro was 214 kilometres but I wanted to go along the Desert Road (State Highway 1). This route was 236 kilometres. After taking a fews diversions and a number of photo stops it was quite some time before I arrived at my accommodation.
There are three volcanoes in the area:
- Mt Ruapehu (2797 metres)
- Mt Ngauruhoe (2291 metres)
- Mt Tongariro (1978 metres).
I should add that there has been volcanic activity in the area in recent times. For those of you interested in hiking, the Tongariro Crossing (which I would consider to be the best day hike in New Zealand) is found in this area.
I thought the weekend I chose would be ideal photographically for a number of reasons:
- there had been snow earlier in the week
- the weather forecast looked good
- there was to be no moon on the Saturday night (so I thought I could have my first attempt at astrophotography)
- while the Desert Road is closed fairly frequently in winter I thought there wouldn’t be any such problems during the chosen weekend.
Tukino Ski Field road
The Tukino Ski Field Road was one of my first diversions on this trip. It was the middle of the day at this point so it wasn’t ideal for a landscape photo but this is the sort of site that may well be worth going back to when the sun is lower.
View from Lake Rotoaira
I then drove round to the northern end of Lake Rotoaira. This photo was taken from that point looking towards Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe. As you can see, volcanic activity is quite obvious.
At around two hours before sunset the following photo of Mahuia Rapids was captured.
As sunset approached it was time to look for a suitable location. I settled on the end of Mangatepopo Road at one end of the Tongariro Crossing. Unfortunately, as sunset approached the clouds increasingly covered Mt Ruapehu. Nevertheless the following was captured.
At this point I was giving up on the astrophotography mission that evening. This was reinforced later in the evening by heavy rainfall.
Sunrise on Sunday
An early rise the next morning found cold temperatures (i.e. ice on the car) but a promising looking sky. So I headed back to a similar area I had taken the sunset photos the day before.
The attractive Tawhai Falls is a short walk off State Highway 48 near Whakapapa Village. This was to be the last location I took any photos on the weekend in the Central Plateau area.