After leaving Marie and Brian’s farm in Inglewood, we turned east in Stratford towards Taumarunui. This 150km road through the middle of nowhere is also known as Forgotten World Highway, and some of the farms along the way really looked VERY forgotten. About halfway we stopped at the village of Whangamomona, which declared itself an independent republic in 1988 after disagreements with local councils. We guess that the rest of New Zealand never really cared what 170 villagers at the end of the world were doing anyway and that’s why nowadays you can now get a stamp of the Republic of Whangamomona in your passport when you stop for a coffee at the Whangamomona Hotel.
After squeezing through the Hobbit Hole tunnel, we stayed the night in Ohakune near Mordor (formerly known as Tongariro National Park) because it was time to visit another old friend of ours: Mount Doom! At our first visit we didn’t make it to the summit during our Mordor Alpine Crossing due to tough weather. Now this time we came back just for the volcano and it was time to settle our open score 🙂
The morning views were fantastic and we fairly quickly covered the first 4 km of the Mordor Alpine Crossing to the turn-off towards Mount Doom.
This time the weather was on our side and we slowly but steadily pushed our way up the mountain …
… near the top we stopped for a deep breath of fresh volcano air at some smoking volcano vents …
… and then we finally reached the red rim of the Mount Doom crater! YES!
We didn’t arrive a moment too soon, because just as we were having our lunch at the summit the clouds came rolling in and the temperature dropped by some ten degrees. So we finished our lunch and quickly hurried back down, sliding rather than walking through an amazingly colourful gravel field.
All in all the whole hike still took us about six hours till we were back at our car. But this time we were not nearly as exhausted as we were after the Mordor Alpine Crossing two months earlier and we had a proper bed waiting for us instead of a freezing cold tent 🙂
Mount Doom: tick!