White Island, New Zealand

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Featured Image The Main Vent

Featured Image: The Main Vent

ORT_Logo  Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony, 1 June 2020

White Island

Volcanoes and Other Dangers

I’ve seen and climbed on a number of volcanoes around the world including Mount Bromo in Java, Mount Agung and Mount Batur in Bali; Mount Vesuvius, with Pompei and Heraculaneum; Mount Etna and Volcano in Sicily; Mount Fuji in Japan and the New Zealand volcanoes.

The only ones I’d consider dangerous while I was on them were Mount Bromo, Vulcano and the New Zealand volcanoes.

Baby Fumarole
Baby Fumarole

On Mount Bromo whilst an eruption was always on the cards, I actually got into trouble exploring alone away from the crater. The very sharp rock was only millimetres thick with dust underneath. It was easy to break through and hard to climb up the steep gullies.

In the Aeolian Islands we stayed on Lipari. On Vulcano while climbing the volcano we were warned by a climber coming down to avoid getting trapped in clouds of smoke which were toxic. Denise also wouldn’t follow some of the trails I wanted to go down. We couldn’t get to Stromboli because it was late in the season and the boats weren’t running.

White Island Map
White Island Map

In New Zealand, one doesn’t think of earthquakes but they are always possible. I slept through one on Bali, which killed several people

New Zealand has plenty of dangerous activities including tramping, helicopters, ice climbing, climbing Mount Cook and the volcanic areas around National Park, Rotorua and White Island.

My article on the Tongariro Crossing outlines some of these around National Park. Mount Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro aren’t necessarily benign.

In the article I say:

The park’s three volcanoes Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu — all active — are the southern end of a 2500 km long range of volcanoes. The northern end of this volcanically active zone within New Zealand, which passes through Taupo and Rotorua, is White Island in the sea off the Bay of Plenty. All three are magic places to visit and within a few hours drive of Tongariro.

 The cause of this volcanic activity in New Zealand is where the Pacific Tectonic Plate is subducted under the Australian Plate.

Continue reading “White Island, New Zealand”

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Postcard from Tupare Garden New Zealand

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Featured Image: Mount Taranaki

Featured Image: Mount Taranaki, New Plymouth

ORT_Logo  Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony, 1 March 2019

Postcard from Tupare House & Garden, New Plymouth, New Zealand

New Plymouth has two major public gardens, several good private ones and excellent public parks. Of the two public gardens we only went to Tūpare. We were here in mid-January 2019. Pukeiti larger and renowned for its rhododendrons is best visited in early November.

Tūpare is both a garden and an arts and crafts house on a very steep site. A volunteer guide opened the house for a tour at 11 am. I am not a garden aficionado in particular and was equally attracted by the house and the story of the property. It is somewhat symbolic of New Zealand.

New Plymouth is not well known to overseas visitors and perhaps not even to many New Zealanders. It needs introduction.

Background

Demography, Geography and Economy

New Zealand consists of two main islands. The North Island is more populated and the bulk of the population lives in Auckland.

New Zealand’s population is only 4,885,000 in 2019. The population of the North Island is 3,749,500 and the South Island 1,135,500. Auckland’s population is 1,582,000 by contrast Wellington is 413,000, Hamilton 205,000, Christchurch 408,000, Dunedin 122,000 and New Plymouth 59,000 (accuracy approximate; variable sources)

The CIA Factbook says of the New Zealand economy :

Over the past 40 years, the government has transformed New Zealand from an agrarian economy, dependent on concessionary British market access, to a more industrialized, free market economy that can compete globally.

However, New Zealand is still dependent on agriculture and forestry as its main exports and on tourism. Hence its economy is dependent on overseas demand and is inevitably fragile. I’ve always said that New Zealand is ten years ahead of Australia in creativity and innovation, but then comes the next recession.

Taranaki and New Plymouth

New Plymouth is in the Taranaki Region, north of it is the Waikato. South are Wanganui and Manawatu. Regional identity in New Zealand is vey strong based on history.

Taranaki is centred on a large volcano Mount Taranaki (previously Egmont) and the mountain is the most visible landmark. Mount Taranaki is conical and looks like Mount Fuji in winter. Several films set in Japan have been made here. Taranaki is the large bulge on the West coast of the North Island, New Plymouth is on the seaward edge of that bulge. It is the only large town in Taranaki.

Map of Tupare
Map of Tupare

New Plymouth is a relatively prosperous community. Because of the volcanic nature of the soils, it is a rich agricultural region. And, because of the bulge it isn’t on the direct land route between Auckland and Wellington. The Port of New Plymouth is tricky of access, particularly in sailing times because it is on a lee shore.

Continue reading “Postcard from Tupare Garden New Zealand”

Postcard from Tongariro Crossing New Zealand

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Featured Image: Ruapehu over the heathland

Featured Image: Ruapehu over the heathland

ORT_Logo   Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony, 4 February 2018

Postcard from Tongariro Alpine Crossing: one of the world’s best one-day walks

The Tongariro National Park

In the centre of the North Island of New Zealand is the magnificent Tongariro National Park, which is New Zealand’s oldest National Park set-up in 1894.

Tongariro National Park the fourth national park in the world is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1886 the local Maori iwi the Ngati Tuwharetoa had the land surveyed and set aside for the government to manage to prevent the selling of the mountains to European settlers.

When the Tongariro National Park Act was passed in October 1894, the park covered an area of about 252.13 sq km, later additions brought this up to a size of 786.23 sq km.

The park’s three volcanoes Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu — all active — are the southern end of a 2500 km long range of volcanoes. The northern end of this volcanically active zone within New Zealand, which passes through Taupo and Rotorua, is White Island in the sea off the Bay of Plenty. All three are magic places to visit and within a few hours drive of Tongariro.

The cause of this volcanic activity in New Zealand is where the Pacific Tectonic Plate is subducted under the Australian Plate.

Ngauruhoe previously erupted every nine years, but the last eruption was in 1975. Mount Tongariro has two active vents the Red Crater, which last emitted ash in 1926 and the Te Maari craters on its northern slopes, which erupted in August and November 2012. One of which put a boulder through the roof of Ketetahi Hut causing its closure as an overnight option. It remains in use on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing only as a day shelter.

Mount Ruapehu has major eruptions about every 50 years 1895, 1945 and 1995-96. Minor eruptions are frequent with at least 60 since 1945.

Lahars are another problem on Mount Ruapehu and also Tongariro. A lahar is a mudflow or debris flow (ash and rock) mixed with water and caused by volcanic activity. Lahars have been recorded on Mount Ruapehu since 1861, important ones were 1953, 1968, 1969, 1975, 1995 and 2007. The 1953 lahar damaged a bridge on the main Auckland to Wellington railway a short time before a train was due. The train derailed and 151 lives were lost.

Mt Ruapehu has two ski areas and is one of the few places in the world where one skis on an active volcano. Lahar danger and the action to take is communicated carefully in these ski areas, but research shows that less than half the skiers know what to do, when the alarm sounds. Although one suspects they may follow, when others run like hell uphill.

The main accommodation areas are Okahune, National Park and Turangi. More upmarket options are the Tongariro Chateau and some apartments at Whakapapa. Pick-ups for the Tongariro crossing are mainly from National Park, Whakapapa and Turangi but also from further afield. Continue reading “Postcard from Tongariro Crossing New Zealand”