I have lived outside NZ now for 14 years…. insane! I decided every time I go back I have to do something new that I haven’t done so I can be a traveller at home. Relive the beauty and experience what travellers I meet around the world keep telling me when they learn I am from New Zealand – “Oh my god its the most beautiful place I have ever been”. I always feel so happy and proud when they go on to tell me about how friendly and hospitable people are and what an amazing time they had visiting.
So I decided to do the Tongariro Crossing with my best friend from growing up last year when I was home. A 20km day hike, one of the most popular in the country, heading up and over some craters, past volcanos, incredible scenery and will take you 7-9 hours.
The first section is a easy climb up from the starting point at Mangatepopo car park to Soda springs on some really nice board walks.
Once you reach Soda springs you have a pretty quick 200m climb up to the South Crater which is a huge flat expanse and you can take a nice break walking across it. Some keen people take the side detour and head up and down Mount Ngauruhoe – I wasn’t up for the challenge but next time will for sure take it on. It’s all volcanic rock so a challenging scramble on your hands for some of it!
Once across the South crater you make a climb up onto an exposed ridge that can be windy and cold. You get stunning 360 views back over Mount Ngauruhoe and across the crater and out over the valley below as well. Our day was picture perfect… a few clouds but a beautiful clear day!
At the peak there is another option to head up onto Tongariro or you can continue along the crossing path and head down towards the red crater.
I decided to put my camera away for this decent which was a good idea as the rock was really loose under foot and I bit the dirt when I was just standing admiring the view. There were a few people I saw take some good slides down.
Minerals from the rocks around give the Emerald lakes their colour. There is a distinct sulphur smell in the air which comes from the vents near the lakes.
The Emerald lakes are a great spot to take a lunch break. Once you leave them you continue across the red crater and start the last wee climb up towards the Blue Lake.
The blue lake is considered Tapu (sacred) so its disrespectful to drink and eat – so don’t stop here for a break, even though it looks really inviting to take a dip.
The final leg is from the North crater down to Ketetahi Hut and the car park. This for me was the most challenging part of the trek as it is a number of switch backs, where you can see the trail the whole way and feel like you’re not getting anywhere.
I think the camera went away at this stage and we just got into the grind of finishing the hike. Was a fun day and as long as you have some sort of base fitness you will be fine doing the walk – the scenery and good company will see you through!