The Te Araroa trail includes the Tongariro Crossing, but having saved a bit of time by by-passing the 42 travrese, I decided to make good use of the extra days and really have a good crack at these wonderful volcanic peaks. With a full pack of food or at least enough for 9 days, I set off to complete both the "around the moutain" and "northern circuit" tramping tracks. A combined distance of just over 100 km, starting and finishing at Ohakune. Although it is already late spring (20 Oct), there is still plenty of snow, as the track circles the mountains at about the 1,400 m mark. In fact as the weather was so changable, I got a mixture of sun and snow showers most days. This made for an interesting time as I went over the Tongariro Crossing, the highest (1860 m) and most northerly part of my route. I climbed up from Oturere hut in bright morning sun, although through heavy snow and onto the souuth basin. I got time for just one photo only (the one I posted on Facebook), before low cloud and freezing fog rolled in. Complete "white out" in a matter of only a few minutes. There were other people on the mountain, mainly tourists, many of them scurring to get down to lower levels and almost all travelling in the other direction passed me. I decided to press on, as I felt it was safer following other peoples footprints and heading into the wind, than against it. The main problem however, was the wind got stronger at the top of Red Crater, not only was it throwing me and my pack around, it was also covering up the footprints in the snow, that I was using as my guide to get from one snow pole to the other. Then I ran out of snow poles, some of them were missing, good on you DOC, has anybody checked the snow poles recently. Not a good look I thought, as I stood there staring out into the whilteness. I was just about to get out my GPS and apply a bit of modern technology, when I heard voices coming towards me. It was a local tour guide trying to get his party off the mountain, while at the same time gathering up other lost soles on the way. This party made a clear track for me to follow and in another 20 minutes or so I was down to clearer conditions and best of all, out of the wind. I hear later from DOC staff, that search and rescue had to pull 5 tourists off the TC that day, who had wondered off the track and got lost. The rest of my trip around the moutain was uneventful in comparison.