490km. One Day. All For This.
I've been spending a lot o' time in front of the screen the last couple of weeks, so with the weather looking ace for this past Saturday, I declared it Adventure Day.
I'd only been down to Mt Ruapehu once since October (when I got back to NZ from Canada), but it was super cloudy and really crap weather, so you couldn't really see much, and I didn't fancy going for a ride on the Summer Chairlift in the clouds and rain.
So, with the weather looking super clear for this past weekend, I decided to head on down to the Central Plateau for the day, on a little solo adventure.
It's about 3 hours drive from where I live, so it's definitely a full-day trip. I decided not to stay the night down there, so although most of the day was spent driving, it was worth every second.
On Friday night I was stalking up the Mt Ruapehu website to see if the Summer Chairlifts were still running, but I couldn't really figure it out... So off I went anyway.
So when I rocked up to Whakapapa Ski Field, I was pretty stoked to see that the chairlift was still running. The views from the top are fucking insane, so it didn't even require a second thought.
The cafe up the top — the Knoll Ridge Chalet — is New Zealand's highest cafe, chilling at 2020m above sea level. The views from inside the cafe are kinda mind blowing, as you can probably see from these photos! The range out to the right of the Chalet is called The Pinnacles.
I don't know why exactly, but I have a huge fascination with Ski Fields, especially in the off-season. Maybe it's cause I never really grew up around this snow sports/winter culture. Or maybe its just a nature thing... It's pretty mind blowing to see how different landscapes can completely transform between the seasons.
In this Central Plateau area there's 3 active volcanoes — Ruapehu, Tongariro, and Ngauruhoe (which doubles as Mt Doom, if you're a Lord of The Rings nerd).
So when you consider that Ruapehu (the one with the ski fields) is considered to be one of the most active Volcanoes in the world, as well as the biggest one in New Zealand, it's a bit crazy.
The last time Ruapehu erupted was in 2007, but there's been a few news articles lately that its starting to heat up again... (Which I only found out when I got home from my little adventure. Ha.)