Round the Mountain Track (Ruapehu)
Heya, was looking at doing the Round the Mountain Track in a few weeks. I was thinking I would park at Whakapapa Village and go from there. I'm curious to hear more about the track and the condition of it, elevation gain and loss, fords, etc...How difficult would you rate the track? I realise this is subjective but any info appreciated. I'm guessing the smart play is to go counter-clockwise to avoid a 3km uphill roadwalk? About me - heaps of experience, tramps in the 800-900km range overseas, moderate NZ experience, however a recent back injury has put everything on hold for a few years and I kinda feel like I'm starting over a little. Been training for the past 6 weeks and keen to try to do something worthwhile. This track seems to fit the bill as it's close to Auckland and I don't have to get on a plane. I plan on doing the track in 3 days at the most. Any advice or information appreciated. Cheers
RTM is a great track with lots to see. The track itself is not too difficult; the challenges are centred on weather and exposure. Most of the track is devoid of shelter if the weather closes in. Also the sun beats down hard in summer so skin protection/coverage is essential. Lots of undulations on this one due to the fact you're circumnavigating a massive caldera and all the streams, valleys, and canyons emanate from Ruapehu. Not sure of total elevation gain/loss. 3 days? Good luck with that. You may consider a tent to meet your goal because the huts are spaced for 4-6 days. To avoid the 3km road walk go through Turoa ski field. After Silicon Falls you can cross-country to the field. Go through the lower car park to gain the ridge above Blyth Hut. Then it's an enjoyable cross-country trek down to Blyth, one of the many great huts on this track. The Waihianoa Gorge is a spectacular feature of the track, as well as a side trip to Tama Lakes. The section from Mangatepopo to Waihohonu is part of the Northern Circuit Great Walk and is easy walking. Other sections of the track have some old boardwalk that can be cumbersome. The flora between Waihohonu and Rangipo is magical. Overall the RTM Track is one of the best kept secrets of the North Island and I'm sure you'll have a blast! Just respect the mountain and take sufficient clothing even in high summer.
3 days? Forget it. It took us 5 days, and we needed every hour of daylight in winter. We had a hard time hitting the DOC time, often going over, but from reading descriptions it seems summer is easier. We started from Whakapapa, and went clockwise, so first stop was Waihohonu hut, that makes for an easy 1st day. 2nd day isn't very hard either, but longer then you would expect. Then the harder bits begin. Day 3 definitely hard, although as usual great scenery. Day 4 can be hard if you have to walk up the road. We got a lift at Ohakune Mountain Road so we didn't have to slog uphill next to the cars. Within 30 seconds :-) Day 5 is probably the hardest, endless ups and downs, and scrambling up a frozen waterfall 1st thing in the morning made for slow going. But when we finally arrived at Bruce Road we got a lift in 30 secondsa gain. So that was very nice. I would say if you have only 3 days, do something in the Kaimanawas or around Ngauruhoe.
I appreciate the comments, thanks, this is helpful. I'm surprised by the concern over 3 days with track under 70kms, unless the footing is terrible this is routine for my standards, saying that...I go tramping to tramp, I don't enjoy siting in a hut all that much. My biggest concern is the open terrain, I've done the Tongiriro Circuit twice and while fairly easy, there is a lot of exposure. I've considered starting at Ohakune Mountain Road so that if the weather came in I could get out at Whakapapa Village, plus the distances seem to work out a little better that way. Thanks!
most of it is rough under foot, when its wet it get slippery and muddy, and it constantly changes elevation.. americans come here and think they have done it all and can handle anything... most NZ tracks are worse than most american tracks, a lot of NZ tracks are a lot worse, a lot rougher, a lot slower going, minimally maintained, and far easier to get lost on... and the weather is often really bad, regardless of the time of year...
I suggest you assume the DOC times are accurate. So just add that up to see if you can do 3 days. Track way rougher than Tongariro Circuit, that's a walk in the park compared to this. You'll be walking on volcanic terrain where DOC randomly has thrown a few metres of track. I'm not saying you can't do 3 days, but doing 12 hour days is not that much fun. Or you'll be running, and then you're no longer tramping. But keep us posted. Just keep a log and tell us how many hours per day you tramped.
Chiming in one last time, I'd recommend taking a tent as Tongariro offers spectacular camping in fine weather. In good weather you can do whatever you want, especially with 13-14 hours of daylight. You'll be able to tramp to your heart's content, perhaps clocking in 30km/day. In inclement weather, you'll be thanking your lucky stars that the huts are within striking distance. The country is so wonderfully open that with the proper skills and luck with the weather, endless opportunities for off country travel and wilderness camping abound. The volcanic rock, however, will chew up the sturdiest of boots and please don't underestimate the amount of up and down on this track: it's relentless.
Thanks everyone for your comments - good stuff. Unfortunately we all have different experiences and standards, and what one person thinks is easy another struggles with, so it's hard to tell what to expect. Based on the comments from those who've been there I think I'll try out a section of this track to get a feel for the terrain, then maybe go from there. Probably my biggest concern is the footing (and fords)...but mostly footing. Bad footing doesn't lend well to making time regardless of elevation gain. I'm also coming off a back injury and need to factor that in as well, so don't need to be a hero. Regardless of the track, I always bring a tent - I would hope people don't go out there without a shelter. Last question, I basically have two options for doing part of the track from what I can see: - Whakapapa Village to Ohakune Mtn Road - 22 kms - Ohakune Mtn Road - through desert - Whakapapa Village - 44kms Based on the map and the comments on this thread I'm guessing the most challenging section is between Mangaehuehu Hut and Waihohonu Hut?
I'm assuming you do it anti-clockwise? The more difficult sections are between Bruce Road and Rangipopo.
Yes, anti-clockwise I'm thinking. So based on that I could hike from Ohakune Mountain Road to Whakapapa Village and get a taste of the challenging terrain, an that's only 22 kms
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