AES’EA – There and (on a Bus) Back Again

Today, we simply walked into Mordor. Deal with it, Boromir.

We (and by we I mean Aaron) have been planning this hike, the Turangi Crossing, for a while now. Just as the wine tour was the one big part of Melbourne determined far in advance, we booked this hike pretty soon after we decided to go on the trip in general.

We needed to get an early start; our tour bus picked us up from our hostel just after 6:30AM. The goal was to be on the crossing and hiking before 8:00. Sure enough, after a quick equipment check and bus transfer, we were on our way.

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The entire hike was volcanic – plant life was minimal and extremely tough, while the rocks and gravel were porous and varying shades of black and red.

Not long into the hike we saw the main mountain, the terrifying peak, known by many as Mount Ngauruhoe and by everyone else as Mount Doom. Our hike took us around and between this mountain and an adjacent one.

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Something something something dark side… Something something something Orlando Bloom…

As we climbed it became wetter and wetter, and even harder to see. Unfortunately, the fog that you see above covering the peak of Mount Ngauruhoe refused to dissapate throughout the day, leaving many views… rather lackluster.

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It kinda sucks playing an exploration game with the render distance set to short

Around the top we passed the area used to portray Mordor in the LoTR series. Again, it was basically a white abyss, so I didn’t bother to take a picture. All that said, it was an immensely difficult rewarding hike. The few views we did get were spectacular, and we all felt very accomplished both after reaching the peak of the hike and at the end.

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A really recent lava flow! The whole hike felt like it was on mars for how unearthly everything looked.
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A rock expelled from an eruption only a few years ago. The whole rock is apparently the size of a washing machine, and the crater was caused by the impact. Did I mention these volcanos are all still active?

To make things even better, we were greeted at the end of the hike in the best possible fashion – free sodas and beers for everyone. It didn’t matter that I was essentially drinking the New Zealand equivalent of PBR, it was one of the best earned beers I’ve had in a long time. We once again walked around 17 miles, and all our feet were just about ready to fall off.

We arrived back at our hostel completely beat and a bit hungry. We babysat our laundry in the washing and drying machines and went down the street to find some dinner. We seem to be a bit in the middle of nowhere (even by NZ standards), so we got some more Chinese food. Once again, it was mediocre Chinese food, just like the American equivalent. Can’t really complain.

Tomorrow we have set course for a more relaxing day, specifically containing the best side effect of a volcanic region: hot springs! Until next time, stay classy San Francisco.

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