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Red Crater, Tongariro EarthCache

Hidden : 12/31/2007
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Geocache Description:

Located on the Tongariro crossing trail near the highest point of Mt Tongariro

Red crater is one of several active craters on top of Mt Tongariro in the Tongariro National Park. It last erupted in 1850.

The crater itself was formed some 3,000 years ago and it has been very busy since with evidence of some spectacular lava flows down into the floor of South crater and back into the Oturere valley.

This spectacular and unusual volcanic feature is a classic lava dike which formed when lava flowed out of the crater. This lava flow lost its "mojo" before it cooled and then it flowed back into the crater leaving behind a tube which has been exposed by later eruptions. The crater in which it is found has striking deep red and brown/green coloured crater walls which is caused by extreme heat sintering and oxidising the iron content of the rocks.

The feature is clearly visible from the safety of the Tongariro Crossing trail. Hikers should remain on the trail as the crater rim is fragile and loose.

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a must do for many outdoor tourists and locals alike. It takes 5-6 hours to complete the 18km hike... cache stops excluded. Buses depart from Turangi, National Park, Ohakune and from Adventure Headquarters on SH 47. The buses deliver eager hikers to the Mangaetepopo Valley. Bookings may be necessary so enquire at the local information Centres. The buses start returning from Ketetahi carpark at 3pm, 4:30 pm and 6:30pm

To access this cache, a reasonable level of fitness is essential as is good footwear, boots not runners unless you are an experience mountain runner. It is not suitable for sub teen kids or even most teenagers unless they are seasoned hikers and capable of this distance. Visitors must be prepared with food, plenty to drink, warm gear, hats, gloves and raincoats. The weather can change suddenly from warm sun to a howling gale and cold cold sleet or snow. It is an Alpine environment so care and common sense are essential for the 18 km hike

To log this cache, send the answer to the following question to the owner: What is the elevation at the point on the trail that the feature is first visible?

There are many other amazing features to be seen on this trail. The start of the walk takes visitors past Pukekaikiore which is a classic dome lava extrusion with spectacular vertical jointing on its exposed cliffs and some great rock climbs to be had. Next stop is the beautiful soda springs, beyond that on the flanks of Mt Ngauruhoe can be seen recent black lava flows from 1949 and 1954, both recently becoming colonised by plant life. Onward and upward via the aptly named Devils Staircase to the summit of Tongariro which comprises multiple craters and vents to the cache feaure. Beyond that down a loose scree slope (Boots ARE essential) are to be found the beautiful Emerald lakes which derive their colour from the sulphur vents heating them. On the downward journey the trail passes by Ketetahi springs which has had to be returned to private ownership due to damage by too many unthinking visitors and numerous scald injuries. The beech forest below is just gorgeous and near the end of the trail is a spectacular waterfall from water emanating from Ketetahi spring above.

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