It is rated as a 4-6 day walk but I was going to try for 3 days .
The walk from Whakapapa village to Waihohonu hut is rated at 5.5 hours but is not all that interesting .
In the distance you can see the lower Tama lake and Ngauruhoe as you head for the hut ...
There is a side track to the historic "Old Waihohonu hut " along the way as well .
I carried on along the track to Rangipo hut rated at another 5 hours walk .
This is apparently the only desert area on the North Island .
Then you cross over the Tokino mountain road .
When you walk through Whangaehu valley there are warning signs because it is a "Lahar hazard " area - one day they expect a mass of hot mud to come rushing down the valley .
That means hurry across this bridge !
and don't look down !
This area is very photogenic and I wouldn't mind spending more time here one day .
This looks like somebody pretty sad about losing someone ! I call it 'the pallbearer'
And settled in !
At 8 pm the door opened and two people came in - it turned out they were doing the 24 hour challenge . They had started at 5 am and wanted to be back where they started by 5 am the next morning . Judging by the time they took they were only going at the rated times of a total of 30 hours around the mountain and I doubt they got back in time .
In the morning there was ice outside - it was a pretty cold night .
But a good morning nevertheless .
So I started the 5 hour walk to Mangaeheuhu hut .
Ruapehu was putting on a display for me !
Then the track went through some trees .....
When I got to the hut it was only 9:30 am so I decided to keep moving .....
At this point my knee started hurting and I hadn't bumped it or anything . I had been overdoing it and not drinking enough water . I kept moving because there was another hut around the corner somewhere and then there was Ohakune mountain road which is a popular road to the Tukino ski field .
It was now the second day and I had walked 50 km with a 25 kg pack full of emergency supplies and camera gear . My knee was hurting so bad I had to cut a branch into a crutch so I could walk properly . I had reached the road by this time and there were markers along the way - when I had gone another 5 km I got a lift into town . Next time I will go lighter - perhaps next December once the days have got longer again I will see if I can do it in 18 hours with a lighter pack . For now though there is still 20 km of track I haven't seen but I have some good memories !