Vlog by Isabelle: see below
We wake up at 7am. The weather is nice; the sky is blue, with no single cloud. We’re going to do the Tongariro Crossing trek today!
We drive to National Park, from where I booked a shuttle (at 9am) to bring us to the start of the Tongariro Crossing.
I’m so excited. As per the Lonely Planet, the Tongariro (Alpine) Crossing is “NZ’s finest one-day walk and one of the world’s best single-day wilderness walks”. It’s part of NZ’s 12 Great Walks. The entire hike is 19.4 km long and takes about 7-8 hours.
Tongariro National Park was made more famous by its star appearance in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, like so many places in New Zealand. The alpine, volcanic scenery is the setting of Mordor, in which stands Mt Doom, aka Mt Ngauruhoe.
Our hike starts at the Mangatepopo car park at 10am. We are thrilled to have clear skies (and hence a great view of Mt Doom). After forty-five minutes of hiking up a steady, gradual incline through alpine plant life, the scenery begins to change. The ground becomes darker, the soil is almost black, and there are volcanic boulders strewn across the landscape. After a warning sign alerting hikers to how strenuous the trail is about to become, we begin the real climb up the mountain. It is steep and tiring, but the higher we get the better the views become. We stop for our first lunch pause in the South Crater.
A bit further, after another steep ascent, we reach the highest point of the hike (1,886m) from where we have 360° views of Tongariro National Park. We could see Mt Doom, the largest mountain Mt Ruapehu, the Red Crater, small beautiful green lakes (Emerald Lakes) and the Blue Lake. The sky is crystal clear and the temperatures are perfect for hiking (we even put our fleece/jacket over there). What a perfect day! We pause to enjoy the view. It’s times like these that make me thankful that we are fit and healthy enough to do things like this, especially as a family. It is a gift to be able to travel like we do but it is moments like these that really make us appreciate what we are doing.
The ever-changing scenery is amazing. This really is a fantastic hike!
I miss my camera; I really don’t like taking pictures with my iPhone.
There is then a steep descent down to the thermal pools. The path is covered with thick dirt and gravel. Despite the fact that the air smells of sulfur we do our second picnic stops here, enjoying the incredible views.
From this point, it is a downhill walk back to the Ketetahi car park. The kids increase their speed.
We did the entire hike in 7h30, including our breaks for food and photos (at least 1 hour). Our 3 kids are amazing hikers. The whole family thoroughly enjoyed the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
We’re so happy we waited 2 days in Ohakune to do this trek in the best possible conditions. What a great day!
The shuttle arrives at 6pm. We arrive back in National Park Village around 7pm. We intend to spend the night here. We try to find water for our camper (to take showers); it’s not so easy in this village. We go to our ‘okay2stay’ campsite, a gravel parking of the Station Café Restaurant. The people from the restaurant kindly let us use their tap and hose. We enjoy our (quick) showers. We then eat a salad, in a very fun atmosphere, with a lot of giggles.
It is time for our usual evening routine in the camper: reading in bed until 10pm for Isabelle and the kids, while I work until midnight.