The trail to the next hut takes just 3 hours, so we have the morning to explore. Either amble (about an hour) to the splendid Ohineopango Springs and visit a historic hut and then return to the hut for lunch, or we can negotiate an adventurous off-trail route over ash-moraine ridges and skirt lava cliffs to reach a viewpoint high above a remote lake. After lunch continue on, traversing stony desert to an alpine hut at 1400m situated on the edge of an old lava flow.
We stop to enjoy fantastic views of the park’s three main peaks: Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe. The latter starred as Mount Doom in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films. It’s an extraordinary landscape of active volcanoes and lava valleys.
Evening provides an opportunity to share the hut with hikers from all over the world. Oturere ‘sardine tin’ Hut is small, quite busy, but still our favourite spot. We usually sleep in the hut, but sometimes we camp. Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.