Tongariro Northern Circuit

jd7

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Feb 3, 2013
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I recently walked the Tongariro Northern Circuit in New Zealand and I thought I'd put up some photos.

All photos taken with a 6D + 24-70 f/4L IS.

For those interested in the walk, it is about 45 km and the circuit starts and finishes in Whakapapa Village. Basically, you walk around Mt Ngauruhoe (Mt Doom in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings movies). Most of the walking is fairly easy but the part of the track called the Tongariro Crossing (where you cross the saddle between Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Tongariro) is tougher - you're going up for a while! Many people do just the Tongariro Crossing as a day walk - a bus will take you to the bottom on one side, you walk over and get picked up by a bus on the other.

We did the Northern Circuit over four days (there are three huts/campsites along the way and we stayed a night in each) although you can do it in two if you want to. (I haven't checked to see if anyone has ever done it in one day.) The campsites have untreated water, toilets and some gas cookers, but that's about it for the luxuries!

Mt Ngauruhoe sits between Mt Ruhapeu (the snow-capped mountain in the photos) and Mt Tongariro, and all are active volcanoes. Well, I understand that technically Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Tongariro are one volcano, but they are separate peaks.
 

jd7

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First shot is Mt Taranaki in the distance, from Mangatepopo Hut. Second shot is part way up the Tongariro Crossing.
 

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jd7

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More shots along the Tongariro Crossing
 

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jd7

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More of the Tongariro Crossing - second photo is of the Red Crater.
 

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jd7

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More of the Tongariro Crossing ...
 

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jd7

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First shot is the Blue Lake. Second shot is one of the Emerald Lakes.
 

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jd7

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Mt Ruapehu from Oturere Hut
 

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jd7

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Mt Ruapehu from Waihohonu Hut
 

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jd7

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Last two - both from the walk from Waihohonu Hut to Whakapapa Village. Sorry if I got carried away!
 

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jd7

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Feb 3, 2013
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By the way, I carried my camera on a black rapid sport strap, which is what I usually use for longer hikes. It works pretty well, but the left side of my back can get a little sore after a long day. Would be great if you could switch the strap to tee other shoulder rather than have it on one side all day. Anyone got any suggestions for carrying a camera while hiking?
 

tron

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I have no experience but I have seen double straps (for carrying 2 cameras) How about getting a double and using it to carry just one camera? That way you could switch the camera when you felt the need to.
 

Frodo

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Nov 3, 2012
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Thanks for sharing. Especially liked the photo of Mt Taranaki in the distance. Good that you did the Northern Circuit and not just the Crossing. The Crossing is probably the most popular walk in New Zealand and can get really crowded. The Department of Conservation is looking at ways to manage visitor numbers. By continuing on to the Circuit you leave 98% of the people behind.

As for carrying a DSLR, I use a Crumpler "4Million Dollar Home" for my 6D or 5DsR plus 24-105/4. I have attached small caribiners by zip ties to the plastic buckles where the strap attaches to the bag. One clip attaches to my pack harness near the lower mounting point, the other to my waist belt. This takes some weight but mainly stops the bag moving about, especially when both hands are needed for scrambling.
 

jd7

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Thanks all.

Tron - I've seen those double straps too, although I've always associated them with photographers carrying multiple cameras simultaneously, such as when shooting events. I've never come across a double strap used for hiking but I might have to investigate!

Frodo - yep, I couldn't believe how busy the Tongariro Crossing was. Apparently over 3000 people were on it the day I did it. Most had obviously been bussed in for the day hike - and based on the footwear some people had, probably had no idea what it was going to be like until it was too late to turn back! I can see how having the Crumpler 4 Million Dollar Home attached to your pack should work well, because the weight can be centred. I think I will have to try out a setup like that. Do you find it easy for accessing your camera for a quick shot while on the trail? Speed and ease of access to the camera is one of the things I like about using the Black Rapid Sport.
 

Frodo

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Here are a couple of photos of the Crumpler "4 Million Dollar Home". The first is from the back showing the carabiners and the second is from above showing the nice fit of the 5DsR and 24-105/4.
The bag tolerates light showers, but I miss the rain cover that comes with Lowe Pro bags.
 

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Frodo

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Here are some photos when my wife and I walked the Northern Circuit a couple of years ago.
 

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bholliman

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Thanks for sharing your experience and excellent photos jd7! I use a BR sport strap, but have never carried a camera on any extended hikes with it. The suggestion to use a dual camera set-up seems like a good one.

Thanks for the info and pics Frodo. I don't have any experience with crumpled bags, are they pretty durable?
 

jd7

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Feb 3, 2013
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Frodo said:
Here are some photos when my wife and I walked the Northern Circuit a couple of years ago.

Nice shots Frodo - I especially like the two with tents in them. Thanks for the shots of your Crumpler bag setup too. I will definitely have to experiment. I like the the BR Sport because my camera is so easily available for a shot, but I think the weight distribution for a long day of hiking would be better with your setup. And your setup should keep the camera out of the way better when scrambling up steep and rough terrain too I imagine.

I have a 24-70 f/2.8L II on loan at the moment as I've been thinking about switching to one, and from my limited use so far it does seem excellent ... but I'm just not sure if it would be as practically useful as my 24-70 f/4L IS for something like the Tongariro hike, because of the IS, lighter weight and smaller size (and the macro mode doesn't hurt either).
 

Mikehit

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Thank you jd7 - they brought back a lot of memories when I did the circuit [ahem] years ago. A beautiful part of the world.