The Tongariro Crossing was one of the must do things on my list before getting to New Zealand. It was billed as the best one day hike in New Zealand and some of the scenes in Lord of the Rings where shot there. It had to be impressive.
We had an opportunity when we first arrived in New Zealand to do the crossing but we chose to take it easy after travelling for 6 months. We also had an opportunity to do it later but something stopped us from doing it, I think I’d tweaked my back. Finally we did get a chance to do it, the weather forecast for the Tongariro National Park was good for at least a couple of days, so we headed down to Turangi, a town just outside Lake Taupo.
We checked in the day before the crossing and arranged for a 45 minute bus transfer from Turangi to the park.
On the day of the crossing we were up nice and early and at the park by 6:30, having left our hotel at 5:45. It was still dark as we set off for the 20km hike. We knew we’d need to finish it in about 7/8 hours as the bus would come and pick us up at the other end at 2:30pm.
The following set of photographs documents the hike with all the spectacular scenery.
A dark mist start to the crossing
We started the upward climb hoping the weather would clear up as predicted.
It was a pretty chilly as we started to climb.
We got high enough to leave the clouds behind to reveal the sun starting to illuminate the peaks with the moon still making an appearance.
Looking out, we were still a few hours away from the top at 1900m above seal level.
There was a reminder as we climbed that we were entering a volcanic area.
It was frosty in the South Crater as this shows. It’s a great view of Mt. Ngaurahoe in the background.
As we climbed the ridge of the crater this view took my breath away, it was much better than anything I had expected. In the distance was the desert road
The ground was steaming from geothermal activity.
We started to make our way down the scree slope of the South Crater towards the Emerald Lakes.
First glimpse of the Emerald Lakes.
The lakes were perfectly still making for a fantastic reflection photo.
As we made our way through the South Crater it was definitely a scene out of Lord of the Rings.
We’d made it to the Blue Lake where we took some time to chill.
Looking back to Mt Ngauruhoe we could see signs of past lava flows seeming frozen in mid flow.
Finally several hours later we were on our way down. The views of Lakes Rotoaia and Taupo in the distance were amazing.
The route is marked well and on a clear day they are easy to see.
Finally we left the high altitude and made our way back through the native bush to be picked up.
I was a little concerned over fitness when we decided to do the crossing but there was nothing to worry about. It’s not easy but very doable – the brilliant weather may have made it a lot easier. It’s an amazing one day hike and I have to say it deserves the title of best one day hike in New Zealand.