“Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo, you fool!” – J.R.R. Tolkien
“A day may come when the courage of men fails… but it is not THIS day.”
New Zealand’s beautiful. We’re famous for it – amongst other things. And that beauty comes from the shifty ground beneath our feet.
The land shakes, rattles, and rolls, down here. We get between 50 – 80 earthquakes a day. Relax- the vast majority are so small no-one actually feels them.
Sometimes the land explodes. Yep, we have volcanoes, too, lots of them.
On Friday, less than week after my earlier visit, I flew back to Auckland for a work meeting. It was sublime flying weather, when you could imagine sprouting a set of wings for yourself, soaring high into the sky on thermal updrafts much like a hawk.
In this photo I can see six different volcanoes: Ruapehu, Tongariro, Ngaruhoe, Taranaki, Pihanga, and Lake Taupo. It looked very quiet down there: no signs of volcanic activity.
But back in 1973 Dad took us on a family holiday to Tongariro National Park. It still rates as one of the best holidays, ever. It was my first trip to the snow, we climbed Ruapehu, and, oh, by the way, Mount Ngauruhoe erupted.
It was the middle of the night. There was an earthquake, a sharp jolt, accompanied by the loudest boom I’ve ever heard. Suddenly the caravan we were staying in seemed rather flimsy. But we’re made of strong stuff, us Kiwis. We didn’t pack up and go home. No way. We carried on holidaying with this as a backdrop!
No wonder Peter Jackson used Ngauruhoe as Mount Doom in LOTR.
Volcanoes are a feature of Auckland, too. The city is built on a volcanic field of more than fifty. They’ve been erupting for about 250,000 years.One volcano is like the next, right? Ah, no. The volcanoes of Auckland are very different from the larger volcanoes I flew over on Friday. Those on the Central Plateau are the result of the grinding of two tectonic plates and they erupt many times. As far as I can work out, in Auckland each cone is active for only one period of time. Every eruption occurs at a new location. Rangitoto Island (see photo below) is the exception that proves the rule.
The field is currently dormant – which is good to know. What’s not quite so reassuring is that it’s not considered extinct. The most recent eruption was Rangitoto Island approximately 600 hundred years ago, post the arrival of Maori in New Zealand. Another eruption is anticipated some time over the next few thousand years.
So the question is then, What to do about this when in Auckland ? Freak out or get up close and personal?
There’s only one answer. During our weekend family visit we went for a wander up Mt Eden, the highest volcanic cone in the city area. The exercise was great, the views incredible.
One Tree Hill, which you can see in the photo above is one of the most famous volcanoes in the city. It’s of historic significance to Maori and Pakeha. As with many of the others you can readily see middens and other signs of early settlement.
Some might find it unnerving living in such an unstable land, but it doesn’t seem to be putting anyone off. Auckland is the fastest growing city in New Zealand. It’s easy to see why.
Ailsa’s travel theme: Feet
During our walk up Mount Eden the sun was high in the sky, which tested my photographic ability. So, I’m sending these to Lucile at the clinic: Photo 101 Rehab