The Tongariro Crossing

Tongariro Travel Blog

 › entry 29 of 117 › view all entries
Unbelievable

On our first night in Taupo I played five-a-side footy with some guys who had clubbed together to get a game from the people at local hostels. Needless to say, we ran out comfortable winners, but the standard was only Rymans Football League compared to the Champions League that was Newcastle Powerleague - big shout out to the Legends Of Subtitling Heroes. Then it was back to a pub which had the highlights of the Premiership, too.

That was all good for getting the legs warmed up for the next day's festivities, the Tongariro Crossing. Dubbed by our Rough Guide as the best one-day hike in New Zealand, the 18.5km trek (without adding side trails) takes you over volcanic terrain, along the slopes of volcanoes Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngaurohoe and Mount Ruapehu.

Soda Springs
It was the location selected by Peter Jackson in The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy for Mount Doom in the films. But, after a five o'clock alarm call, the supposed personal highlight of a visit to the north island seemed somewhat unappealing.

Blearry-eyed, we started our 10-hour journey, and before we did we asked a lady to take a photo of us at the start. Even after asking her to retake her blurred effort, she still couldn't manage to hold a point-and-shoot camera and press a button on still objects. Luckily, the scenery we were to be treated with, like that of the Iguazu Falls in Argentina, meant that only she, or perhaps a blind person or someone in a coma, could possibly end up without a great set of photos as a souvenir for all the hard walking.

We started our ascent, and luckily we were starting the trail the easier way round - as in if you go the other way there is a far more gradual uphill battle at first, then a sharp downhill to finish.

Mist on the ascent
We got the bulk of the 1886m-above-sea-level volcano out of the way within the first two hours, passing the picturesque Soda Springs, and decided to take one of the side routes in addition to the crossing itself. One is a very challenging three-hour, unmarked trek to the top of Mount Ngauruhoe, 2287m above sea level. We declined this, on the thought of adding so long to our already long day and not really fancying a death-climb, and chose the two-hour trek to the summit of Mount Tongariro instead, at 1967m above sea level. Unfortunately, the cloud that had set itself at the top refused to budge, and our break at the top gave us no treat in terms of views. We descended feeling a bit disappointed, but as we did the cloud dispersed above Mount Ngauruhoe, which made the steep climb all worthwhile.
Mount Ngauruhue

Then back on the Tongariro Circuit main, we took a while to take in the awesome views looking into the Red Crater, with its red and brown hues, and appearing as if something has taken a monster-sized bite out of it. We ate lunch next to the beautiful Emerald Lakes which, due to the sulpher content, had the familiar eggy smell we had so missed from our time in Rotorua. Then we began the descent, which seemed to go on forever. A predicted three and a half hours turned into five as the winding track down the face of the mountain took what seemed like forever. Feeling exhausted at the bottom at five o'clock, we were glad to have completed what was about a 24-25km trek on challenging terrain and glad to take off the smelly walking boots and hang them up for a couple of weeks, at least.

dossaleeds says:
Where are the pictures of the funny looking foreigners? You're so cultured. Blah, blah, blah. I'm only interested in big moustaches, stupid faces and oddly shaped locals.
Posted on: Mar 08, 2007
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Unbelievable
Unbelievable
Soda Springs
Soda Springs
Mist on the ascent
Mist on the ascent
Mount Ngauruhue
Mount Ngauruhue
Head in the clouds
Head in the clouds
View from Mt Tongariro
View from Mt Tongariro
Halfway there
Halfway there
The Tongariro summit walk
The Tongariro summit walk
The blue lake from Mount Tongariro
The blue lake from Mount Tongariro
The Red Crater
The Red Crater
The Red Crater
The Red Crater
Oh, look, the Red Crater again
Oh, look, the Red Crater again
The Emerald Lakes
The Emerald Lakes
The Red Crater from afar
The Red Crater from afar
The descent
The descent
Tongariro
photo by: annthansten