Wow, had a fun yet scary day today! We did the Tongoriro Crossing. We had to get up at 5am to be ready for our 6am pick up. Slept most of the way on the bus as it took a few hours to get to the base of the mountains. They gave us some information sheets, with what to expect and I was pretty nervous after reading it as it was going to be pretty windy up there and I wasn't looking forward to the sheer drops on either side at one part of the crossing! They told us the wind was blowing at about 30 knots today! AH. I was glad I decided to buy some gloves and hire one of their windproof jackets! The first part of the walk was easy, it was just flat along paths for about an hour. We then reached the 'Devil's Staircase' which was just upwards for about 45mins, I did not enjoy that bit, it was really trying! When we were nearing the top of the staircase, the wind suddenly picked up vastly and cloud descended upon us! It was horrible, I had to put on every layer of clothing I had with me! When we reached the top of that part a man from the company was there to collect the band off us that we had been given at the start, so they knew how many people had gone up. We then crossed the crater of the volcano 'the Red Crater' and it was so cold and windy, but the colouring was cool, all yellow! We then started to climb to the summit of the Crater. It started off ok, but obviously was pretty windy, and it was pretty scary as you couldn't see very far due to the clouds, but far enough to see the drops! Suddenly the path moved so that we had to climb over rocks, which I would have enjoyed in normal weather, but today it was completely covered in ice, all the rocks and ground. At some parts it looked like it was muddy, so you could get a grip, but I was mistaken several times, as the ice was just invisible, and slipped a little. I was pretty scared as if I had properly lost my footing I would have just fallen right off the mountain as I had nothing to grip on as all the rocks were covered in ice as well! Luckily we survived (how I do not know, we agreed as did many others that we didn't know why they were letting people up there unguided still!).
The summit was extremely blowy, and my hair had even frozen! I couldn't feel my legs they were so cold! We were nearly at the summit of 'Mount Doom' from Lord of the Rings, but we were not allowed to climb it due to it being winter now. The way down was a bit easier but it was very gravelly so you kept slipping over. We finally reached the other side of the mountain, and arrived at the Emerald Lakes (sulpher lakes) but they were practically covered by cloud, so didn't make for a good photo. We carried on down, the wind went away and the clouds disappered, so the descent was a lot better! We had a stop at a hut for a few minutes and had lunch and then carried on down. It seemed to take forever and I was so desperate for the toilet, I was wondering whether to risk it in the forest! But finally the end arrived and I ran to the loo! It took us 7 hours in total, so a very tiring day, but again NO blisters! I had luckily borrowed some walking shoes out of our hostel's lost property so that was good! Off to bed pretty much at 8pm haha as we have to get up at 6 tomorrow to get our bus! Very tired!