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Stauchy Blog » Blog Archive » Tongariro Crossing - Mon Nov 26, 2007 (JRS)

Tongariro Crossing - Mon Nov 26, 2007 (JRS)

Billed as “The finest day-hike in the World,” the Tongariro Crossing lies smack in the middle of the North Island on NZ.  We had wanted to do it on our pervious trip, but the low-lying clouds and cold weather (we got snowed on the night before) kept us off the trail.  I can’t imagine that it’s the finest day-hike in the World, but it was certainly enjoyable with some very distinct highlights (unfortunately pictures are going to have to wait until we get back to the States and regain access to our laptop).

Since our time near Nelson, we caught the ferry from Picton to Wellington and spent a morning in Wellington before booking it northward to Tongariro National Park (you can read about the ferry and Wellington in our web-account of our previous trip: http://www.stauchy.net/2004_NZ, day 20).  We got an early start and headed for the trail head (generally we’d need to set up transportation from the end of the crossing back to the beginning, but Janelle agreed to only go part-way up the trail, then turn around and get to car to bring around a pick us up at the end of the trail).  The first hour and a half was through a barren landscape of rocky escarpment at the foot of the looming Mt Ngaharu (spelling probably wrong), a still-active volcano on top of which you could see fresh steam spewing out on occasion.  It was a glorious day, and we were treated with a view that extended all the way to Mt. Egmont which is near the west coast (another destination that had been spoiled by weather during our last trip).

At that point, the trail headed very steeply up towards a pass between Mt. Ngaharu and Mt. Tongariro.  It was very slow going, but we eventually made it to the saddle which opened up to a surprisingly large, eerily desolate flat area known as South Crater.  The trail led across crater and it felt a bit like what I imagine it would feel like walking across the surfact of Mars.  It was pretty cool, indeed.  After the crater, another very steep section led to the highest point on the hike with great 360 views and an overlook of the aptly named Red Crater and Emerald Lakes.  Across another volcanic-rock-strewn flat there was a larger deep-blue colored lake which was our next destination along the trail.

After the lake, there was a relentless down-hill slope that took us about 2.5 hours to get down at a speedy pace.  It made us glad that we started on the side that we started on.  Janelle had just arrived to pick us up when we got down and we jumped in the car.  We drove along the shores of Lake Taupo into the town of Taupo where we had a nice lakeside Mexican dinner while watching several family-reunion-style get togethers nearby.  It reminded us of good times back in the Real World.

-JRS

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