Climbing Mount Doom

Distance Travelled: 60,215km
Date: 27th March 2013

One of the things I really wanted to do before leaving Taupo was to go back to the Tongariro Crossing, and this time to conquer Mt Ngauruhoe. When I did the crossing back in December, I had to miss out climbing the iconic peak because I had run out of time, so I was determined to get back and get to the top.


Spot the difference! My climb wasn’t hindered by eruptions or the one ring, but it wasn’t an easy climb either. Mt Ngauruhoe was used by Peter Jackson as inspiration for Mt Doom in Lord of the Rings.

A couple of days ago, I got the chance to go back and make the ascent.

Leaving town at 5:45, we were able to see dawn break over the mountains.IMG_3023IMG_3024

IMG_3095Once we arrived at the Mangatepopo carpark, it was the same walk to the base I did before. Along the valley, past the springs and up the Devil’s Staircase (which was quite a bit harder than I’d remembered – not a good sign).

It took a few hours to reach the base of Mt Ngauruhoe, and when I arrived it towered ominously over me. “Oh well”, I thought, “Might as well get going!”

Ngauruhoe from a distance. Doesn't look too hard.

Ngauruhoe from a distance. Doesn’t look too hard.

From the base it suddenly looks like a long way up

From the base it suddenly looks like a long way up

Starting the climb wasn’t too hard, but very quickly the ground underfoot turned into loose scree, sand and rocks. More than a couple of times, a big rock would come loose and bound down the slope.


The way up was very varied, with no real path. Some sections would be unstable rocks that would try to roll your ankles, some was sand with no traction. Every now and then there is a rocky section which is relatively stable, although these are 45° and more, and climbing up them is hard work.

Despite all this, it was definitely worth it for the stunning views at the summit. (click to enlarge)

IMG_3074 IMG_3085 IMG_3084 IMG_3071


The top of the mountain is dominated by a central crater, and there are signs of vulcanism everywhere. There is steam rising from gaps in the rocks, hot enough to burn.

IMG_3051  IMG_3076

The rocks themselves are also very obviously volcanic.


The way down was, if anything, harder than coming up. The scree slipped and rolled underfoot, and I fell quite a lot. The sections of sand were fun to get down though, as you could jump/run down, like you would on a dune, digging into the soft material on each bound. This did mean I ended up with a hell of a lot of stones in my shoes though.

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1 Response to Climbing Mount Doom

  1. What a fantastic area. Great photos.

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