I know it has been a while since we wrote but we were saving it for something that would interest you!
Since our trip up to the North Island we have been chilling pretty much horizontally for a week! Olof came down with a case of the man flu and after realising we had visited thirteen different places and stayed in each place an average of two nights we deserved it! We had visited Taupo on our previous trip to NZ it is where my famous bungy jump took place and we loved the town then luckily it lived up to our memories. So unless you would like to hear the in's and out's of Home and Away, Shortland Street and Masterchef I'll get on with what
have done today!
When we were here in Taupo in 2008 we had wanted to do the one day walk the Tongariro Crossing but with having a tight schedule and it being cancelled due to bad weather we had to miss out on it so this time we were determined we would do it. A storm hit pretty much all over NZ late last week so the again it was cancelled until yesterday so with good weather forecast for today we jumped at the chance as we were pushing how long we could stay in one place for!
To give you a little background, the Tongariro Crossing is rated the best one day trek in New Zealand and is pretty famous around the world. It is an 18.5km one way walk and the land mass was formed by many different volcanic eruptions, the oldest lava flow is 275,000 years old. Mount Ngauruhoe is the youngest volcano and is the most active, the last eruption occurred in 1975.
A website quoted "it's a challenge, an adventure, an unforgettable experience" and we were going to find out how true that was.
Our day began at "stupid o'clock" in the morning as we needed to have time for breakfast (and my make-up!) before the shuttle bus arrived at 5.40a.m. and it was still dark for much of the 50km journey to the starting point of the track. As we still have our cold weather clothing we were very well prepared for the conditions today unlike a lot of people who were having to rent coats and boots! All wrapped up and we were ready to start the hike, it's quite an eerie feeling to go from no snow to a pretty deep layer in a foot step. The beginning of the track is relatively easy, lulling you into a false sense of security but it was cold, with the mountain blocking the sun and very windy so we were hurrying out of the shadow! However, out of the shadow meant the start of the climbing, the track is really well marked with posts and small portions are boardwalks but heading up to the South Crater is got a little tricky! With the rocks and snow it was hard to know where to put your feet, when we're walking I like to lead but how is it Olof always finds an easier route up! The reward for making it up the "Devils Staircase" was the best views we have ever seen, past the snow and craters it felt like you were on top of the country just looking down at everything, little did we know of what was to come! Walking through the South Crather was quite a strange feeling, just an expanse of flat surrounded by the steep sides and to look back on it the walkers looked like tiny ants crossing on a single path. At the other side was the base of the Red Crater and what was supposedly the last big climb of the day though even going downhill later on they managed to throw in a few uphills just for the crack! At the base of Mount Ngauruhoe we decided we wouldnt be attempting that summit but it was cool to be standing on the lava flow from the 1975 eruption. The ridge of the Red Crater can apparently be quite scary on a windy day as it is the width of a coach with around 150m drops either side but luckily we had a pretty calm day so we could enjoy the views from the highest point of the walk. By now we were on the sunny side and our coats had come on and off a hundred times but we had left the minus degrees behind but not the snow, it was now time to attempt walking down the steep slope of scree to cross the North Crater. Leaving the crater also left the sulpuhr stink behind a little as we came down to the Emerald Lakes which funnily enough are emerald coloured! This was something I was most looking forward to seeing and the water looked even more dramatic against the snow. Looking back I had my blonde moment of the day by saying "volcanoes do actually look like volcanoes!" Well you know what I mean, like the ones you draw as a kid! These silly comments kept rolling as we saw four backpacks which had been left while people went walking around what I thought was a tent, it was a big rock! It must have been the altitude! We stopped off at the Blue Lake for some lunch and to strip off to t-shirts as we started making our way down. You always assume the way down will be a bit non descript but coming over the crater we had views of Lake Taupo. It was pretty tough to walk down, where on the way up you could choose your own route and climb up rocks, downwards is mainly pathed at quite a steep gradient. I had problems walking across the slope in the snow and kept causing small avalanches! From volcanoes we headed down past hot springs and then into forest and a complete different landscape with the end of the track following a small creek. It was like coming from walking on the moon back to earth! We had a stop and rest at the last hut before the end to soak in some sun and we're glad we did because the last part was knackering, at every bend we were hoping to catch a glimpse of the finish. Even though we had plenty of stops to see the sights and sneek a rest, we were still quick in finishing the 19km track in around seven hours so we were catching the first bus back to Taupo, the last bus doesnt leave until four thirty so everyone has plenty of time. It was definitely good to be sat down and we both fell asleep on the ride back, unbelievable we were comparing to our marathons as it is a pretty long time on your feet!
Back at the hostel it was time to crash, not after I made fun of Olof as he had really caught the sun on his face and looked like a panda with sunglass marks! So a well recommended walk and we're so glad we didnt give up hope in doing it and in the end we had a great day, you can see from the pictures the perfect blue skies and the snow just made it a little more challenging. Olof puts it down as his best hike yet, I'm not so sure they've all been amazing but maybe this just had that something that made it special.