After missing our intended hiking day due to rain we wound up hitting the most beautiful day in weeks, according to our guides. We hiked the Tongariro Alpine Crossing with views of Mt. Tongariro (used as Mount Doom in the LOTR) and Mt. Raupehu.
Mt. Tongariro is an active volcano, the risk is minimal these days but it has been active in recent history. It was a tough climb up and a 12 mile trek overall.
These craters were formed by eruptions a few hundred years ago, the entire area smelled of sulfur.
The path up and down the mountain was rocky, but especially slippery on the way down to fine sand-like rock and ash.
Mountain vents were everywhere. The road to the bottom was long and winding through hills and a rain forest!