Tongariro Crossing (New Zealand Great Walk)
Oct 29, 2005
Well after leaving Egmont, we decided to drive up the Forgotten Highway towards the Wanganui river. The highway is supposed to be like how NZ was 50 - 70 years ago. Well it certainly was very rural and remote but rather unremarkable scenery wise (you can see how spoilt we are geting these days, hardly blink an eye with green rolling hills, rushing rivers and waterfalls).
NZ has ruined us for life with it's incredible geographic variety and amazing scenes.
Most people do a canoeing trip down the Whaganui rver and we were slightly undecided whether to stop and do a day canoe trip or crack on. Although the river looked nice, in the end we decided that it was better to prepare for Abel Tasman in the South.
We arrived in the little village of Whakapapa. (Pronounced phuk a papa!!). These Maori pronounciations are hilarous and this one, thus far has to be the best. The village was situated at the base of three volcanoes in the Tongariro National Park. Aside from a posh hotel, a visitor centre and a camp site, there was nothing in the village aside from a whole lotta bush. And oops, this also happens to be one of the places that the Kiwis come to ski.
As we are fully into the swing of camping now, we obv opted for the campsite rather than the posh hotel (200 bucks ...er...tough choice huh.)
Up bright and early the next morning and on to do the Tongariro Crossing, a day walk across the Tongariro Volcanic Range (the middle one of the three volanoes) reputed to be the best day walk in NZ and possibly the world.
First off we started by clibing over the lava flows of Mount Doom (yes the real one from the movie LOTR), the real name defn not pronouncable to me. The first bit was fairly steep and definitly got the old ticker beating. From there it was across the crater floor and up a ridge for a good whiff of the steamy sulphory smelling fumeroles, (well I hope it was them and not Tim!) and down some rather loose gravelly stuff to the sparkling emerald and blue lakes. All very good. From here on we had a bit of a walk across the Tongariro Volcano (Nix:I love the literal meaning of most of the kiwi names here). We managed to finish way under the time allocated and luckily for us our shuttle bus was there ready and waiting to take us back a couple of hours early, while everyone else got to wait until the set time of return!*Hooray for us* With a couple of hours at our disposal we drove to nearby town, picked up some supplies of the liquid variety and had a local beer lazing in the sun. Very nice indeed!
Still racing against the clock a bit we decided to scrap our plans of heading back to Lake Taupo (in the middle of the North Island) and head south to Wellington.