We were continuing our journey down through North Island. Today we were off exploring active volcanoes in the Tongariro National Park.
It’s all very exciting as much of the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed here. We are huge fans and had been to visit Hobbiton a few days before.
We even found a lunch spot with a magnificent view of a cone shaped volcano, where we had Afternoon Tea. Someone should have told Frodo and Sam…
Chateau Tongariro hotel in the heart of Tongariro National Park sat in-between a huge volcano range, Ruapehu and a steep cone volcano, Mount Ngauruhoe (and they can be seen for miles).
They look incredible across the huge freshwater lake Taupo, which itself lies in the caldera (a type of volcanic crater) of the Taupo Volcano.
As we enter the National Park, it is free from any development, just fields, a few trees and mountains.
This meant there was a clear view as we spotted our first crater (here on the left).
This magnificent National Park is like no-where we have ever been. The rust and gold colours of the slopes were beautiful.
Mount Ngauruhoe is an awesome sight. It really does make you feel as if you are somewhere completely remote.
So, imagine our surprise when we discovered a 1920’s Chateau right at it’s feet.
What’s even better is the view from the hotel, which is breathtaking. You can ski down the active volcanoes in winter. Thrilling, but I wouldn’t be able to stop checking for snow melt!
Inside this grand old dame, the decor is a little faded. It really is ready for a sympathetic makeover.
However, we did find this beautiful painting of the famous Pink and White Terraces formed by thermal water. They were considered the 8th wonder of the world. Sadly, in 1886 it was devastated by an enormous hydrothermal eruption. It created the Lake Tarawera, near the Solitaire Lodge, where we stayed a few nights ago.
We took our table by a huge arched window which was set for our Afternoon Tea. There seemed to be a disconnect between Mount Doom and vintage china, not obvious bed fellows, but this is kind of what’s right about it too. It was definitely a new experience.
Our generous tea arrived and although it’s not the most refined one we have had it was really rather wonderful.
Although the finger sandwiches were pretty simple (and various shapes) they were as fresh as it gets.
This little cheesecake was oh so smooth, with a crunchy base and was utterly moreish.
The creme brûlée in a tea cup was perfect too.
We tucked in heartily. It was much much better than eating Elven Lembas bread, where ‘one bite will satisfy a man for an entire day’.
While us girls tucked into a little plate of truffles the boys enjoyed a quick game of snooker.
So, with one more look at the view, still hardly believing we were there, we set off heading further south. Next destination, Martinborough.
If old school glam, afternoon tea and volcanoes rock your world check out the Chateau Tongariro hotel.