Mt Ngauruhoe at sunset after winter southerly, Tongariro National Park

The volcanic cone of Mt Ngauruhoe (2297 metres) is a relatively young mountain, having first formed somewhere between 2,000 and 5,000 years ago. Vulcanologists regard Mt Ngauruhoe as part of the multi-cratered Mt Tongariro massif immediately to the north, but its near-perfect cone is of such prominence that it is commonly regarded as a separate mountain in its own right. Ngauruhoe last erupted in the mid 1970s and has been quiet since then, although swarms of volcanic earthquakes have once again been detected underneath the mountain during 2006.

Climbing Mt Ngauruhoe is a popular side trip from the famous Tongariro Crossing track, and trampers and climbers can reach its summit crater in less than two hours from the top of the Mangatepopo Valley on its northwestern side. Most of Ngauruhoe’s slopes comprise loose scoria which can make for a tiresome climb during summer — but the reward is an exhilaratingly fast descent. It’s also possible to camp inside the summit crater, from the edge of which stunning sunset and sunrise views can be had over the central North Island and nearby Mts Ruapehu and Tongariro.

Blue Lake, Mt Tongariro

Winter sunrise reflection of Mt Taranaki

Mt Taranaki from Pouakai Range

High country tussockland, Lindis Pass

Frozen terminal lake, Tasman Glacier

Mt Ngauruhoe at sunset

Mt Taranaki from Pouakai Range

Star trails over Mt Taranaki

Winter sunrise, MacKenzie Basin

Ben Ohau Range, Canterbury

Cerro Rosado, Argentina

Frozen lake, Mackenzie Basin

Rangipo Desert, central North Island