What an amazing day!
We were picked up at about 5:30am from our and driven over to the big bus down to Crossing. We arrived at the trail head at around 7am and after a quick bathroom break we were on our way to the crossing.
The Tongariro Park is basically a still active volcanic area just south of Lake Taupo. It is a desolate wasteland that was very pretty in its own unique way. It started out fairly flat for about an hour or so and then we started Devils Staircase which was an old lava flow. I have been on some tough, steep climbs, but this takes the cake as far as tough climbs. Imagine 45 minutes on the stair stepper of death, with steps twice as big as the should be, that gave you constant vertigo, and had loose rocks that could give way at any moment. Lua loved it…..
After that we made it to the south crater that spanned between Ngauruhou Summit(better known as Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings) and Tongariro. It was relatively flat and the clouds had yet to lift from this elevation(we got some neat photos here). After that it was another climb, which was cake compared to the staircase but we were already fatigued, up to the top of Red Crater. The top of our climb and about 2500 feet higher than were we started.
Red Crater was a very thermally active area, it smelled great! The ground was very warm to the touch and even though it was freezing and windy on the top it was great place to sit down and have lunch. We warmed our bums for a bit and filled out bellies with some strange concoction called Anzac Mix(gross). After that we headed down to the emerald lakes and blue lakes. Both very pretty and then the hike down was pretty unimpressive, it was basically a slow decline that went on….and on…
Overall the hike was about 18.5KM or 11.5 miles. Lua did great and I even got some pictures of her faking a smile at the summit.
One of the best days of the trip so far!………For me…Lua’s opinion may differ… 😀