“Are there any questions? Does anyone have other plans for tomorrow?” the hut warden Sally asked the motley group of trampers as we huddled in the Mangatepopo hut on the skirts of the Tongariro National Park in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island. Outside the wind was buffeting against the hut’s wooden walls, whipping the tussock grass (and tent flies) into a frenzy. But inside, it was cosy; the wood-burner was alight, slowly drying wet clothes whose pungent steamy fumes mingled with the homely scent of Pizza Hut pizzas some entrepreneurial Germans had carried up from civilisation.
I raised my hand, catching the eye of Sally. “We’re planning on climbing Mt Ngauruhoe tomorrow,” I ventured tentatively, worried I knew the response. Sally had already mentioned the weather conditions for the next day and while rain wasn’t going to be a massive problem (at least not until the evening) the wind was going to be frenetic, with gusts around 45km. Continue reading