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Morning sun at Upper Tama lake

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July 2019 Issue

Upper Tama, Tongariro National Park

It was quite possibly the coldest night I’ve ever had in the mountains. I had walked the Tama Lakes Track and carried on beyond the track end which overlooks Upper Tama to pitch my tent on the ridge leading to Pt1650.

Clear skies led to a heavy frost and in the morning I found everything had frozen. I boiled snow for a hot drink, packed up and journeyed on, traversing the ridgeline towards Mt Ngauruhoe.

Morning cloud scattered and a bluebird day ensued. It was quiet on the tops, the only sound coming from the crunching rocks under my boots. And the view was majestic – I couldn’t take my eyes off the looming volcanic cone of Mt Ngauruhoe.

Later in the morning, I was again struck by the silence, this time as I walked past Taranaki Falls. Wairere Stream had frozen over and instead of a roaring waterfall, there was just a bare rock face and a quiet calm.

– Jack Austin

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Total Ascent
2-3 hr to Upper Tama
From Whakapapa Village, along the Northern Circuit Track