Auckland Baptist Tramping Club

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Base map extracted from NZ TopoOnline May 2008. Crown Copyright Reserved

For this particular weekend, 12 persons signed up for the tramp. We were a diverse group in age, background, outdoor experience and equally represented in numbers by both genders.


After an initial slow start battling through Auckland late afternoon Friday traffic from Bracken Avenue to Papakura, we picked up the remainder of the group in the hired 12 seater van and headed south into the twilight to our destination, Mangatepopo School Camp, along SH47 near the Tongariro National Park. With Peter’s steady hands on the wheels, we arrived at the Camp close to midnight and after a short briefing, quickly settled down for an early start the next morning.  


With a less than certain MetService forecast for fair weather over the weekend, we woke up to a beautiful clear Saturday morning where the distant volcanic peaks were clearly visible. On arrival at the starting point of the Crossing, at the end of Mangatepopo Road, we were not the only group wanting a wilderness experience. We counted no less than 6 assorted coaches and vans that had disgorged or disgorging trampers in various degree of preparedness for the trek. If there was safety in numbers, we were surely in the thick of it.

With CS leading off and Peter bringing up the rear, we became part of the long line of trampers snaking into the wild blue yonder. The invigorating fresh air, blue sky and incredible surrounding, helped to put the oomph to our steps and we made good time in our journey. Even as we huffed and puffed slowly up the “devil’s staircase”, the steep climb between Soda Springs and the South Crater, it was very noticeable the tremendous amount of work that had been done to upgrade the former little rough foot trail to a properly compacted footpath with wooden-sided box steps for a safer and easier trip. With the pleasant weather and slight breeze blowing, it was a great day to be out although it got a bit chilly at the top of Red Crater. The fantastic 360 degrees view stretched to the horizon, the incredible multicoloured hue of the volcanoes, lakes and distant vegetation compensated for the ever presence crowd of people.  

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We stopped for lunch by the Emerald Lakes where Michelle shared her reflections on “Gratefulness”. As we descended towards Ketetahi Hut, the mist set in at certain portion of the track but lifted again by the time we reached the Hut where we saw a queue, of not less than 15 persons, for the three toilet cubicles and standing room only crowd resting at the front of the Hut.
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As we made our way down to the Ketetahi car park, again many improvements on the footpath were observed, from anti-slip plastic honeycombed mesh laid to wider and gentler gradient footpath being built. Our party reached the car park at around 4pm, taking us a total of 7.5 hours to complete the Crossing. Linda, the caretaker of the School Camp, delivered our van right on time to shuttle us back to our accommodations.

For dinner, we had a delicious meal of chicken curry, sausages and mixed vegetables on rice, and rounded up with cake topped with custard. The rest of the evening was spent in front of a cosy lighted fire place with tea and coffee in pleasant conversation and company.
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It was decided that for Sunday before heading home, we would head for Whakapapa Village and do the Taranaki Falls’ trail which was a 2 hours loop walk. We were again blessed with fine weather and Mount Ruapehu was framed by clear blue skies to form a beautiful backdrop as we headed for the Falls. The walk was easy and the varied sceneries of bushes, streams, the distant volcanoes, forests and finally, the Falls itself made it a worthwhile effort. With Taranaki Falls within earshot and a visual backdrop, Peter shared his reflections on God’s all encompassing love.
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On arrival back at the village carpark, we all headed to the café for a well deserved coffee break before starting our journey home. We reached Auckland around 7.30pm. At a total cost of only $72 per head for an entire enjoyable weekend, it was a good deal indeed!.

COST: $72