Tongariro Crossing New Zealand

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.

Start of the trail from

Start of the trail

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.

Nice path cuts through

Nice path cuts through the long grasses and old lava flow

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!

Looking back across the crater to Ng

Looking back across the South crater to Mount Ngauruhoe

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!

iPHONE panorama of he view overlooking the South crater

iPHONE panorama of the view overlooking the South crater

Daph checking out N

Daph checking out Mount Ngauruhoe

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.

Top of the crossing before heading down past the Emerald lakes to the red crater

Top of the crossing before heading down past the Emerald lakes to 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.

Views of the Emerald lakes, red crater and up to the Blue lake

Views of the Emerald lakes, red crater and up to the Blue lake

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.

iPHONE panorama overlooking the Emerald Lakes, Red Crater and up to the Blue Lake

iPHONE panorama overlooking the Emerald Lakes, Red Crater and up to the Blue Lake

We had a laugh at what we thought this looked like

Some interesting landscape as a result of volcanic activity

Taking a short break enjoying the views

Taking a short break enjoying great day and views

Emerald Lakes

Emerald 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.

Looking back across the red crater

Looking back across the red crater

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.

Heading around the blue lake looking back

Heading around the blue lake looking back

Daph coming around the blue Lake

Daph coming around the blue Lake

Down the final section

Down the final section looking over Lake Taupo and Lake Rotorua

Final leg home

Final leg home

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!

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2014… its been a journey

When I look back on 2014 I realise just how many opportunities I have had, amazing people I have met, the new friends I have made, and lands I have walked. Always feel super privileged to see and do all of it…. not without some challenges but these are character building and make 2015 another year to look forward to. Get out there and see the world, meet people, break down stereotypes and change peoples views!
Adventure is out there waiting!

The year that was 2014

The year that was 2014

My home in New Zealand

A beautiful evening on the beach at my hometown in New Zealand (January 2014)

View from up Mount Maunganui looking down over the beach, New Zealand

View from up Mount Maunganui looking down over the beach, New Zealand (January 2014)

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Children in peak out of a makeshift school tent following Typhoon Yolanda, Philippines (February 2014)

Roofless, Homeless but not HOPELESS, Tacloban Philippines

Roofless, Homeless but not HOPELESS, Tacloban Philippines (February 2014)

Rodolfo (73) sat with his wife Guadalupe outside their newly built home and explained to me how he survived Typhoon Yolanda. With his wife away visiting family in Manila, he stayed in their home only 30 meters from the shoreline until he saw the water level rising too high and then evacuated to the Elementary school. During the typhoon he tried to wade back through waist deep water to save some rice and supplies from his house but saw his house was flattened by coconut trees and under water. Thankful for the support to rebuild their home from external donors & a community effort led by Marie Ann Corsino they were surround by family and happy to still have one another Luan Village Leyte, Philippines.

Rodolfo (73) sat with his wife Guadalupe outside their newly built home and explained to me how he survived Typhoon Yolanda. With his wife away visiting family in Manila, he stayed in their home only 30 meters from the shoreline until he saw the water level rising too high and then evacuated to the Elementary school. During the typhoon he tried to wade back through waist deep water to save some rice and supplies from his house but saw his house was flattened by coconut trees and under water. Thankful for the support to rebuild their home from external donors & a community effort led by Marie Ann Corsino they were surround by family and happy to still have one another Luan Village Leyte, Philippines. (February 2014)

Small things make a huge difference. Children celebrate receiving new shoes after Typhoon Yolanda, Philippines (February 2014)

Small things make a huge difference. Children celebrate receiving new shoes after Typhoon Yolanda, Philippines (February 2014)

Testing out a camera with children at a school in Arusha, Tanzania (March 2014)

Testing out a camera with children at a school in Arusha, Tanzania (March 2014)

Happy faces at a school in Arusha, Tanzania (March 2014)

Happy faces at a school in Arusha, Tanzania (March 2014)

Shy schoolgirl hides her smile, Arusha, Tanzania (March 2014)

Shy schoolgirl hides her smile, Arusha, Tanzania (March 2014)

Hong Kong Harbour as the sun goes down (iPHONEOGRAPHY) April 2014

Star Ferry crosses Hong Kong Harbour as the sun goes down (iPHONEOGRAPHY) (April 2014)

Two of my favourite boys kicking back having a laugh, Rwanda (June 2014)

Two of my favourite boys kicking back having a laugh, Rwanda (June 2014)

Back at the No.41 House (check them out www.no41.org) Rwanda (July 2014)

Back at the No.41 House, Rwanda (July 2014)

Check out No41 here www.no41.org

A sweet young girl who came walking up all curious outside a local school (iPHONEOGRAPHY) Rwanda (July 2014)

A sweet young girl who came walking up all curious outside a local school, Rwanda (iPHONEOGRAPHY) (July 2014)

The sun goes down over the land of 1000 hills, Rwanda (July 2014)

The sun goes down over the land of 1000 hills, Rwanda (July 2014)

I first met Scraggles and fell in love with her, my street dog in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (August 2014)

I first met Scraggles and fell in love with her, my street dog in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (August 2014)

Check out her transformation story, photos & video here… https://strengthinvulnerability.com/2014/11/17/scraggles-her-transformation/

Four friends at a school in Woliso, Ethiopia (September 2014)

Four friends at a school in Woliso, Ethiopia (September 2014)

Peaking out, schoolgirls in Woliso, Ethiopia (September 2014)

Peaking out, schoolgirls in Woliso, Ethiopia (September 2014)

Juggling down the beach, Zanzibar Tanzania (October 2014)

Juggling down the beach, Zanzibar Tanzania (October 2014)

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Friends help with smiles, Ethiopia (November 2014)

And as the sun goes down on 2014… I finish the year back home in New Zealand with friends and family before heading back to Ethiopia in a few weeks!

“Not all those who wander are lost”