The Tongariro National Park is an area that once belonged to the Ngāti Tūwharetoa tribe. But it became clear to their chief, Horonuku Te Heuheu, that the white man would not let the the Māori tribe rule this area. New Zealanders also had been aware for some time that the nature they once enjoyed had in great parts been destroyed already, and animals once local to this country, like the hula-bird, had already become extinct. So, in 1887, Horonuku Te Heuheu gave this land as a gift to the Crown under the condition that it should not be developed but rather be a national park.
The weather started getting better in the morning, the rain had finally passed, and only a few clouds were left over the National Park.
Here I had a chance taking a photo of Mount Ruapehu — Exploding Hole — a pretty decent name for a volcano.
Close-by Mount Ngāuruhoe, the main active vent of Tongariro with a remarkable symmetrical cone, the mountain top at 2287m above sea-level still covered in clouds.
Latest on August 6th 2012 Mount Tongariro had a gas and steam driven eruption that lasted only a couple of minutes.
After this brief visit, we drove in the bus to the starting point of today’s bike ride in the Whanganui River Valley. We had to find a good spot to start our ride as some of the path was still covered in gravel and we did not want to stay on that type of surface for too long.
But since the weather now really had improved we were all eager to start riding our bikes instead of being driven in the car, and if that meant a couple of kilometers on a gravel path then we would sure do it.
About a third into our bike trip of the day I found this nice post-box on a Māori-carved totem.
I reached the city of Whanganui after 75 kilometers in the saddle, and just in time to have a quick shower before re-joining the other participants for dinner. This time we took the bus to get to the restaurant in town, where I had a lovely steak and an even better conversation with the American participant, who goes by the travel-name Solo. After dinner I decided not to go in the bus back to the hotel but rather asked Solo to join me for a walk back to the hotel instead. Surprisingly for a Friday evening the city seemed very empty — maybe that is because most people are still on summer vacation?
This was our last official bike ride on the North Island of New Zealand. Tomorrow we will take the bus to Wellington where we will spend a day before our journey continues on the South Island on Monday.
Here you can find more photos of my journey across the North Island of New Zealand