It’s 5am in the morning and we are racing down the highway ready for another unknown adventure. We got a long drive ahead of us, (2 ½ hours) but an even longer hike (9 hours). The Tongariro Crossing is described as the best one day hike in NZ and one of the spots film crews shot Lord of the Rings but they only allow 60 cars in the car park. We are determined to be one of those 60, we made it by 7:30.
It was still dark outside and we were prepared, packs loaded, camera charged and plenty of water. The hike started out a little mundane as we hiked along a steam. Eventually we broke into a flat area that looked like we walking across a lunar landscape surrounded by cliffs. Then we hit the sign that indicated it was going to be a tough day.
The hike up was tough but eventually we made it to what I thought was the summit, I was wrong. We hiked across the base of the caldera with Mt. Nguaruhoe looming over us, and then up the other side of the crater to the top of Mt. Tongariro. Six hours in we had made the summit and a gorgeous view of the volcanos beside us and the Emerald Lakes. It was time to take out our picnic lunch and soak up Gods work.
We wanted to make the full Tongariro Crossing which is a one way hike but the second half of the trail was closed due to volcanic activity and rocks dropping out of the sky so it was time to turn around and head back the way we had come. The trip down was treacherous with gravel that slid with each step, one wrong step and you could be in real trouble. By the time we had finished we were exhausted, one of the top 5 toughest hikes I have done but beautiful and definitely one to put on your list. At the end of 11 hours, our day was not finished we still had a 3 hour drive to Napier but that is where we met Annie.