On Saturday, November 10th 2018, I had the opportunity to go to Mount Tarawera. Due to the significance of this mountain for the local Maori people, it's no longer accessible to any old Tom, Dick or Harry. Now, all trips to this fascinating summit must be arranged with Kaitiaki Adventures. These are the people who consider themselves guardians of the mountain and have a historical/ancestral connection and plenty of stories to share.
Rather excitingly, on the day of my visit, I was not part of the usual tour group. I was heading up to the mountain on behalf of New Zealand's Department of Conservation (DOC). The goal was simple: pull out as many wilding pines as possible. Literally, twenty-five or so of us in a line - similar to a police manhunt - traipsing the sides of the mountain pulling, hacking and sawing as we went along. It was a real privilege to be involved and to give something back as I've done countless DOC tracks, hikes, walks and climbs over the last eleven months. Even if it was back-breaking work, it was totally worth it!
The forecast was clear so I'd decided to try and work on my tan by wearing shorts and a singlet. How mistaken I was. We'd been advised to wear long pants and tops. I came away covered in scratches from scrambling through the fallen trees and spiky native bushes. Oops!
If you do this trip the 'traditional' way, one of the highlights is not only the beautiful view but you actually get to run - at full speed - down into the crater. Slipping and sliding on the scree and scoria as you go. Due to making good time, we managed to get a run in after our volunteering had come to an end. It was beyond exhilarating until I was too focused on filming and took a tumble. With nothing to hold on to and nothing to stop you I was left slipping and sliding (and scraping skin) until I could dig my legs in deep enough to hold myself in place. It was most entertaining. I just wish the camera was on me for that as it would certainly be hilarious to watch.
Anyway, enough chatter from me. Look at these beautiful pictures. And I didn't add any filters or enhance the colours. It really and truly actually looks like this.