Tongariro National Park - New Zealand

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Kiwi Beeman
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Location: Gisborne, New Zealand

Tongariro National Park - New Zealand

Post by Kiwi Beeman » Thu Jul 28, 2011 2:43 pm

July finally brought a good dump of snow to the North Island of NZ. My wife and I finally had a chance to make our first igloo. I had read the manual, looked at many of the forum reports and watched the video several times.
We hiked 3 hrs up to South Crater and started to build at 12.30 pm. The snow although less than a week old was very dry and powdery and caused problems getting a firm foundation. We also had problems getting the stake to hold firm despite putting water on it. The blocks formed quite well despite breaking a few as we learnt. It took us 1 hour to complete the first layer of our 8 ft igloo. By 4 pm when the sun went behind the hills and the temperature dropped we were onto the fourth layer. As we did not have enough daylight to complete that day we put up our backup tent, had tea and went to bed. A very chilly night getting down to 5f (-15c) in the tent. Next morning we completed the igloo with a total build time of 7.5 hrs. We were happy to have it completed even if it was not picture perfect. That night we slept in the igloo and had a comfortable nights sleep. Next day we had a lot of visitors trekking by who admired our creation.
We had done snow caving before and appreciated the extra light that comes into the igloo and enjoyed the building experience. Back home to do some more study and to work out how to shorten the build time to something more reasonable.
Two questions:
Would it be warmer to throw a tarp over a half finished igloo rather than sleeping in a 3 season tent?
Is it quicker to build a 9 ft igloo with 3 people than an 8 ft with 2 people?

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Igloo Ed
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Re: Tongariro National Park - New Zealand

Post by Igloo Ed » Fri Jul 29, 2011 7:39 am

Kiwi Beeman wrote:July finally brought a good dump of snow to the North Island of NZ. My wife and I finally had a chance to make our first igloo. I had read the manual, looked at many of the forum reports and watched the video several times.
We hiked 3 hrs up to South Crater and started to build at 12.30 pm. The snow although less than a week old was very dry and powdery and caused problems getting a firm foundation. We also had problems getting the stake to hold firm despite putting water on it. The blocks formed quite well despite breaking a few as we learnt. It took us 1 hour to complete the first layer of our 8 ft igloo. By 4 pm when the sun went behind the hills and the temperature dropped we were onto the fourth layer. As we did not have enough daylight to complete that day we put up our backup tent, had tea and went to bed. A very chilly night getting down to 5f (-15c) in the tent. Next morning we completed the igloo with a total build time of 7.5 hrs. We were happy to have it completed even if it was not picture perfect. That night we slept in the igloo and had a comfortable nights sleep. Next day we had a lot of visitors trekking by who admired our creation.
We had done snow caving before and appreciated the extra light that comes into the igloo and enjoyed the building experience. Back home to do some more study and to work out how to shorten the build time to something more reasonable.
Two questions:
Would it be warmer to throw a tarp over a half finished igloo rather than sleeping in a 3 season tent?
Is it quicker to build a 9 ft igloo with 3 people than an 8 ft with 2 people?
An unfinished igloo with a tarp over it is warmer than a tent by quite a bit. A tent moves in the wind and this pumps the heat out of a tent. A tarp drawn taunt over the igloo shouldn't move much.
The time to build an 8 ft. igloo with two people is the same as the time to build a 9 ft. with three people.
Getting the base to set up is a bit of a trick but it requires gently packing yourself off the floor and giving a bit of time to set up. I usually pack the base and then take a lunch before getting to the igloo building. I've also found that the type of boots being worn make a big difference. Plastic ski boots are so stiff that they even break up a base that is already hard. My leather boots do well and soft down booties work real well for the packer but not the person gathering the snow as he usually needs to stomp on the snow to break it up for use.
Having problems with the stake coming loose is partially due to a soft base. The center area of the base should be packed as soon as possible and then leave it alone while finishing the base to give the stake area longer to set up. There's a "Stake Comes Loose" thread on the forum for more info.
It sounds like you got the packing technique/feel down if you only broke a few blocks, that is the hardest thing to learn and it should go much faster for you next time.
I'm glad you're liking the igloos and it's great to hear the effort you put forth before building the first igloo.

Kiwi Beeman
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Jul 24, 2011 11:38 am
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Location: Gisborne, New Zealand

Re: Tongariro National Park - New Zealand

Post by Kiwi Beeman » Mon Aug 01, 2011 1:49 am

Thanks for the advice Ed. I am keen to try again soon. The first igloo got rained on 10 days later so has a colapsed roof.
Have been trying to attach a photo, will try again
Attachments
Igloo July 11 087.jpg

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