A trip to the snow

We headed to the snow this weekend, specifically the snow at Tongariro National Park, which is situated more or less halfway between Auckland and Wellington, in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand.

Established in 1887, Tongariro was the first national park in New Zealand and the fourth in the world. It is also a dual World Heritage area, a status which recognises the park’s important Maori cultural and spiritual associations as well as its outstanding volcanic features.

The three andesitic volcanoes at the heart of the park – the mountains Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu form the southern limits of the Taupo Volcanic Zone. Volcanic activity in the zone started about 2 million years ago and is on-going today. Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe are two of the most active composite volcanoes in the world. In 1995 and again in 1996 Ruapehu erupted sending clouds of ash and steam skyward and covering the surrounding snow fields and forest with a thick film of ash.

It is a land of strong contrasts. Chaotic, barren lava flows, winter snowfields, hot springs and active craters can be seen side by side. Its plants too vary considerably, from alpine herbs to thick swathes of tussocks and flax, from the hardy, low-growing shrubs of the Rangipo gravel-field to dense beech forests. It is a harsh environment for plants; poor pumice soils and volcanic activity slows the development of diverse forests yet some pockets of magnificent podocarp forest can be found. They survived the eruption of Lake Taupo (1800 years ago) because they were sheltered on southwest slopes of Ruapehu. These resilient little plants were some of the few peeking through the snow and ice near where we were:

The park was a location for filming for some parts of the Lord of the Rings movie, including Mordor and the gates of Mordor. For us though, it was the perfect place to spend a day playing in the sun…

As you can see the weather was fabulous!

And the kids had a ball…

Its a  little over three hours (by car) from our doorstep, we really are lucky to live in the best spot in the world!

This shot is looking south from the lower slopes of Ruapehu towards Mt Taranaki in the distance:

After spending an hour or so on the lower slopes of the mountain in relative isolation we headed up to the ski fields, and hired a toboggan.

And when we were all worn out from walking up and down the slope dragging first the empty toboggan, then towing it with one child, and not much later two children on board… we resorted to a bit of snow man building!Before heading for the car and a change of dry clothes!

I hope you had as much fun in the sun this weekend as we did! Jxx

PS Im trying on a new header (or two) for size.  What do you think?

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7 thoughts on “A trip to the snow

  1. What lovely photos, wonderful narative, gorgeous family and lots of fun shared. With our temps nearing 100F daily, the snow would be a treat!

  2. I love your pictures. It is so nice to see other parts of the world! I wish I could visit this place too some day. Our weekend was very hot, we spent the whole day at the swimming pool yesterday.
    Your new header is beautiful, I like it!
    Have a great new week Jannette!

  3. Wow – what an outstandingly beautiful place. I love snow but we don’t get nearly as much as I would like here in the UK. Is there snow in the national park all year around? I like your new header but I think you should find room for the little picture of you – it was so cute. Lily. xxx

  4. Great photos, that area is stunning, I am a huge fan of the LOTR films so that makes it even better! The weather looks perfect there and the kids looked like they had a brilliant time.

    Love the new header, really bright and cheery and the tea cups are perfect showing off your lovely crochet.

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