Before blogging about the first signs of spring I would like to share some winter photos with you that I took in Germany last year. They depict a weather phenomenon, which is both beautiful and dangerous at once.
Frozen ski lift on the Fichtelberg, the highest peak of the German Erzgebirge
In December, Saxony’s low mountain range (Erzgebirge, East Germany) was wrapped into thick fog layers lasting for weeks. The high air humidity coming along with the fog covered the region’s trees with hoar frost, which built up to a 30 to 40 cm thick ice crust. Needless to say that trees snapped off like matches under the heavy weight.
To avoid accidents, local public services decided to impose a ban to enter the forest above 800 metres. Streets were blocked for days and ski lifts had to shut down when some tree branches threatened to fall on the ropes.
Once streets reopened, we wanted to have a closer look at this newly created winter wonderland and went on a day trip to the highest point of the German Erzgebirge, the Fichtelberg (1,215 m), which looked as stunning as I had never seen it before. Me and my camera(s) got all excited; I could have easily spent the day looking at the most bizarre ice formations, but the cold…the severe cold…
Are you as excited about the latest The Hobbit trailer as I am? Five weeks from today I will sit in one of those wide and comfy cinema armchairs, glued to the screen, absorbing Peter Jackson’s latest visual tricks like a sponge, while marvelling at the Trilogy’s sceneries.
Mt. Ngauruhoe aka Mt. Doom, in Tongariro National Park, New Zealand
Best thing about it: I have been there! Most outdoor scenes have been filmed in New Zealand, just like most scenes for The Lord of the Rings. New Zealand is officially Middle-earth; and Mt. Ngauruhoe in Tongariro National Park is the most popular location among orcs fans, as they can attempt to climb “Mt. Doom” and conquer Mordor.
One does not simply walk into Mordor? Oh well, I must have gotten lucky the last 6 times I visited. Yes — visited. I looked and behaved like a tourist in Mordor, and of course I captured it on film (in the form of a 16 GB memory card).
On a foggy day, the region is indeed all about doom and gloom (like in the movies). But on all other days, Tongariro is one surprisingly colourful place to discover. I have been lucky enough to visit the region during all 4 seasons. Each season is unique and totally worth it. But let’s allow some photos to talk for themselves.
SPRING: Parts of the Tongariro Crossing are still covered in snow
View over the Red Crater
Turn around 180° and you will see the Blue Lake
Turn around another 90° and you will discover the Emerald Lakes
Getting close to the Emerald Lakes
Occasionally, Tongariros volcanos can smoke (a lot)
SUMMER: Not how you imagine summer? Weather forecasts are nearly impossible for Tongariro
But you can always marvel at the Park’s “low altitude beauty”, like the Tawhai Falls
Heaps of flowers
On a rainy day you can visit the thermal pools in Tokaanu
Beautiful underwater landscapes at Tokaanu
Or you can stroll around Lake Rotopounamu; a natural shelter from the rain
Rotopounamu is a bird’s paradise; this little fellow is a North Island Robin
AUTUMN: Returning to Tongariro in autumn looked like summery doom and gloom all over again
Though magic was in the air
The next morning looked very different
Perfect day for the Tama Lakes Walk
Or the walk to the Taranaki Falls
Passing the most colourful moss
Moss in all kind of shapes
WINTER: There is rarely snow on the lower altitudes
Only Tongariro’s volcanos are covered in snow
Perfect place for a snowboarding session
Skiing is fine too of course
Whakapapa ski field in Tongariro
What an enchanted place!
Who else is looking forward to rediscover New Zealand in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies?