After another bus extravaganza, we arrived in Taupo. As we checked in, the chap on the hostel reception asked if we wanted to do the Tongariro Crossing, and if we did, we should sign up for the following day, as the weather was good and it’s often closed due to poor weather.
The Tongariro is a one day alpine crossing involving a 19km hike. I was really eager to do it so we signed up. It turns out that the crossing was closed for the few days after we did it, so we are really fortunate to have made it!
Up we got the following day at 5am to get the 5.45 bus to the start of the trail. We had to set of early to allow us enough time to make the crossing before it got dark. On the bus was the most passive aggressive tour guide I have ever come across. Hilariously agro for 6am in the morning. I couldn’t decide if he was a cool climb dude sick of tourists or just not a morning person, but he made me laugh so much:
-“well all you guys wearing trainers are gonna have lovely warm and dry toes when you are walking though the snow aren’t you?!”
-“oh I can see those of you who don’t have sunglasses clearly are immune to snow blindness.”
– “the bus will collect you at 4pm. The bus will collect you at 4pm. What time? 4pm. 4pm. 4!!! PM!!!!! Am I being clear enough for you?! 4PM!!!!!!!!”
And so on and so forth.
Tom and I had wrapped up in loads of layers and waterproofs, were wearing trousers, hats, sun cream, had our first aid kits and sunglasses and our big walking boots etc. and had also packed enough food and water for about ten people. So we were absolutely fascinated by a pair of Chinese lads sat on the seats next to us.
Both were wearing trainers, one had on his swimming trunks, the other had huge fashion glasses on with no glass in them. And they had a bottle of Gatorade each and a subway sub each in a plastic carrier bag. We were equally amused and concerned that they had no idea what was going on. We were thinking that they’d be like “holy shit why are we walking across mountains in swimming shorts?!” Needless to say, we saw them at the end and they’d survived it so good for them!
The walk started out flat, and there were quite a lot of people. Everyone was fucking power walking for some reason and I was out of breath trying to keep up, thinking “why the hell do we need to be going so fast on the flat bit?!” But I think it was because the man on the bus had terrified us that we wouldn’t make it back by 4pm!
We walked across the base of the volcano used as Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings film.
Then the path started to creep up hill until we reached a section of the walk called “the Devils staircase” – not a very reassuring title!
It was very steep and there were so many steps to climb. It wouldn’t have been too bad had there not been people behind me. If I wasn’t so out of breath I would have loved to turn round and roar “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!” In their faces, but alas, I had to make do with stopping on the edge of a cliff and breathlessly gesturing them past!
It was amazing to reach the top. We had a banana break. Tom dropped his banana and then jumped up and down on it in anger which made me laugh a lot. I’m a meany. We then entered the snowy part of the walk.
It was so beautiful!! And warm! Definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve been. The rest of the walk is hard to put in a timeline because it all blurred a bit into one. The best bits were the views, seeing the volcanic activity, walking across the frozen lakes, and the bright emerald blue lake where we sat for lunch.
All in all, it took us about 7 hours. We were warned not to stop for long periods because our legs would stiffen and make it hard to keep going. It was one of the hardest walks that I’ve done but definitely the most rewarding. Taking my boots off and lying down on the wooden bench felt amazing once we’d made it!
Try clicking the little link below, it should take you to a 30 second video that summarises our time on the crossing.