Run Away With Me?
Tongariro National Park will always hold a special place in the hearts of Robyn and Hec Crawford who chose it as their top-secret wedding destination.
Whenever Robyn and Hec Crawford (#29346) feel like taking a trip down Memory Lane, the North Island’s Central Plateau is the perfect destination. “Tongariro National Park is a favourite escape for Hec and myself because not only did we elope on our own without our families and get married at the Grand Chateau 10 years ago, Hec also has wonderful memories of his New Zealand Army years whilst living in Waiouru with his young family – it’s special to us both,” says Robyn. A favourite visit included walking to the Taranaki Falls during a stop-off after leaving Ohakune and heading to the NZMCA camp in Taupo (TD#3365). It’s a relatively easy two-hour, 6km loop track that starts near the Chateau.
“Taranaki Falls, in my opinion, has to be the most beautiful falls in the North Island. The colours and rock formations are simply amazing!” says Robyn. “We walked via the lower track, stopping to admire the pretty alpine gentian flowers and other fauna, whilst enjoying the warm clear air of a summer’s day that showed off stunning views of Ngauruhoe and Mount Ruapehu.
“The falls are halfway along the track and then it’s 100 steps up from the falls, a right turn at the top, then on to the upper part of the loop track – it can be walked either way returning to Whakapapa.” The Whakapapa Visitor Centre has plenty of information on the area and Hec and Robyn have bookmarked the Whakapapa Holiday Park for another stay. “We can’t wait to go back and stay a few days in our caravan to do some different walks and really take in the ambience and explore the many more areas this magical place has to offer. Walking to Blyth Hut is another of the couple’s recommendations for the area. They bought hut tickets from the DOC office in town and based themselves in the Ohakune Top 10 camp. They took a shuffle up Mountain Road to the Waitonga Falls carpark, the start of the 90 minute trek to Blyth Hut.
“Blyth Hut was rather cosy with only three other chaps, so we were lucky we had a bunk room to ourselves. Relaxing early evening, we sat outside on the verandah sipping our hip flask ‘treat’ while taking in the most magical sunset out towards Mt Taranaki. “Behind the hut the view of snow- capped mountains provided beautiful vistas all round. Our dehydrated dinner of lamb and mash was enjoyed sitting around the hut fire says Robyn. “The following morning was a steady downhill trek passing the spectacular Waitonga Falls, then turning off onto the Old Blyth Track.
“The DOC receptionist had warned us that this track wasn’t widely used and probably ‘a bit muddy’. Well, that was an understatement.“ The track was constructed in the 1900s through alpine bog with logs placed horizontally across the track. It was such a boggy track that seemed to go on forever, and it had been a while since we both carried full packs which added to the challenge, along with breaking in our new boots.
“Two minute noodles cooked on Hec’s little gas burner with a tin of tuna tossed in were a welcome midday energiser, along with other snacks on the way. I just love studying the different alpine plants and colours along the way which always tempts me to stop and take photos.”
Pick up was 3 pm on Mountain Road and the shuttle dropped the couple back at camp where their tired muscles couldn’t wait for a long hot shower after what turned out to be a not-very-easy four hour trek. “But certainly another wonderful experience in our beautiful Aotearoa,” says Robyn.