This time our friends came along. Meet Kola and Bola :)
From the car park it is about an hour's walk to the base of the first climb which is a well made path climbing up to the base of Mount Ngauruhoe. Then it's another half an hour of constant uphill.
The hardest part about climbing this mountain is choosing the right path, There are valleys of slippery pumice which is light rock that you can sink knee deep into as you take two steps forward and slide one step backward. There is a ridge of fairly solid rock towards the left that you can head for if you follow the poles in the ground.
After an hour and ten minutes I was at the top - maybe it's not a matter of being fitter as much as being wiser and knowing which path to take.
It's a great view from the top.
There's Blue lake in the distance.
Going down is another story - a better one than going up actually. Now you head for the soft stuff because the hard stuff is dangerous if you fall while going down. In twenty minutes you can be at the bottom again, it's just a matter of digging your heels in side to side as the rocky conveyor belt carries you back down.
Our friends were ready for a group shot.
As with many aspects of photography it turned out that people liked the picture of the slime in the river at the bottom more than all the others :)
And here is the video which inlcludes the rocky conveyor belt.