Oturere Hut to Whakapapa
I left the hut at 7am and made my way back up to rejoin the trail. That got the legs working and the blood pumping early on in the day. I was back up to the lakes by 8.30 and few few people were already there. The first of the ant trail. I had one final steep climb up to the Red Crater and then it was all downhill to the Mangatepopo hut where I stopped for some lunch. The track to the Tongariro summit was closed and so was the track to the Ngauruhoe summit. Hedley had mentioned last night that it is no longer allowed but admitted there is nothing they can do to stop people. The crossing basically takes you to the top of Tongariro but just not the official summit which is about 1km west. I could not see how it was possible to get to the top of Ngauruhoe anyway and it was covered in cloud by 11am. The wind picked up today. It was a strong westerly but helped keep me cool. Many people were underdressed and did not look prepared. No wonder so many people get rescued.
At the end of the crossing I took another track for 9kms to Whakapapa. I could see rain to the south and felt a few drops but that was all. I checked into the Whakapapa Holiday Park and have a cabin here for tonight before continuing to National Park tomorrow. I will go down to the Tussock Bar tonight for dinner and a beer.