This is another look at the real Mt. Doom, Mount Ngauruhoe, on New Zealand’s North Island. I took this picture near Blue Lake. Mount Ngauruhoe towers over the red crater, on the adjacent Mount Tongariro, from which the famous Tongariro Crossing gets its name. You can see the trail to the right of the crater, proceeding down the ridge onto the valley floor in the left of the picture. You can also see one of the black lava flows crossing the photo.
We stayed in the Oturere Hut the night before, crossing over this terrain while traversing the trail known as The Northern Circuit. It is about an hour hike down to the hut located to the left in the main photo. The huts are like hostels as you pay for a bed that is located in a communal space. You might have 20 people sleeping in the same room and the kitchen is often located in that same space. At night, the hut wardens like to tell interesting and entertaining stories to their intrepid travelers. The Oturere Hut is one of the oldest huts in New Zealand’s National Park system and it shows its age. During the warden’s talk that night he pointed up at the skylight over our bunk bed and said that about 5 years ago the skylight hadn’t been there. It was the result of a piece of debris that exploded from Tongariro’s crater in 2012, crashed through the roof, went through both levels of the bunk bed and straight through the floor. “Well, good night! Sweet Dreams!” Luckily we had hiked almost 14 miles that day so I was too exhausted to be overly concerned, otherwise, it might have been a sleepless night.
During that 2012 eruption, the Ketetahi Hut was mostly destroyed and shut down. It has still yet to reopen. No one in either hut was hurt during the eruption.