The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is an 18.5km walk across the TongariroNational Park in the centre of the NorthIsland.Rated as the best one day tramp (NZ speak for walk) in New Zealand and listed by many in the top 10 day treks in the world (according to the rough guide) the path passes two active volcanoes (Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Tongariro) and other land rich in geo thermal activity.
Those faithful blog readers will know that we originally attempted to do the crossing on our way down the NorthIsland but had to cancel due to high winds.Not this time, waking up early at our campsite in Okahune the sun was shining and not a cloud in the sky.We clambered on to the shuttle bus we had arranged to drop us off at the start of the walk and pick us up at the other end and set off for the 7 hour walk.
Sternly warned by the pessimistic, although informative bus driver, that the weather was readily changeable, the walk would take far longer than we expected and that he would be inspecting our foot wear on the way off to ensure we had suitable attire, we began to wonder what we had let ourselves in for.Especially as I had a pair of NZ$20 Slazenger trainers on from the Warehouse on (just like What Everyone Wants but much bigger NZ equivalent).As a result of these warnings we decided to cut out the optional walk up to the summit of Mt Ngauruhoe and leave it for another day.
Gingerly we set off and the tourist brochure reviews reflected reality.The scenery was stunning.A lot of it was used in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, for example Mt Ngauruhoe was in fact Mt Doom in the film (I told you the bus driver was informative).We sped off past the two volcanoes, the Central Crater, ran down the volcanic dust of the Red Crater to the EmeraldLakes.Stopped for lunch before moving on past the BlueLakes and finally through the bush section to the other side.Fantastic although we were now 3 hours early for our pick up. Still the sun was shining and we just sat enjoying the January heat.
A great day made better by the stop for Fish and Chips on the way to the Waitamo camp site and the next day onto Auckland and an emotional farewell to our campervan.We then successfully changed the dates for all our remaining flights and picked up our $200 compensation for our bags being late when we arrived and happily checked in for our flight back to Wellington.Just when I thought things could not get any better our flight was delayed 4 hours.Time to start looking for jobs……