I See. I Like. I Blog.
The Tongariro Crossing is acclaimed as the best day walk in New Zealand. Well, I can now personally vouch for it, after having completed the trek two years ago.
The 19km trek takes you through raw volcanic terrain with views that will take your breath away. Traversing the crater valley of Mangatepopo at the start of the trail, it is hard not to be overwhelmed by the sheer vastness; what’s more with the towering Ngauruhoe shadowing your every step, it made me feel quite small and vulnerable. The mountain is, after all, an icon after starring as Mount Doom in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy.
Climbing the Devil’s Staircase however will definitely leave you out of breath, as you negotiate the steep ascend trying to find a firm footing on the loose, shifting rocks under your feet. It is said that the climb takes a thousand steps, but I lost count at 121 after bumping into a group of nudist on the way up..!
But all that hard work is quickly forgotten upon reaching the top, when one comes face to face with the magnificent Red Crater ~ a striking brick-red ridge of twisted masses of soil and rocks that lines the summit. The photo I took does not do justice at all to this awesome sight.
Proceeding on up along the crater saddle, another stunning sight awaits: the Emerald Lakes. Here is a collection of three crater pools that are high in mineral contents, making it unsafe to drink or swim in, but its brilliant contrast to the otherwise barren landscape is enough to entice anyone to book the first flight out to New Zealand! And if you think this looks awesome, wait till you check out the way to get to them. There is this near-45 degree descend on a scree slope that’ll take you slip-n-slidin’ down as fast (or as slow) as you choose to go. I had fun woohoo-ing all the way down, using my walking poles for balance; some trekkers were actually running at full speed! All the same, I should note that this part is quite dangerous – one false move and you can go tumbling down like Jack and Jill. One hiker did, that day; he survived but with some nasty cuts (and probably a slightly bruised ego!).
One other significant landmark in the Tongariro Crossing is the Blue Lake. This lake is however off-limits to visitors as it is sacred to the Maoris. The temptation to go down to its shores was difficult to resist, but in the end I walked away before the Gods decide to send bolts of lightning down my way. Heh.
Towards the tail-end of the trek, I was pleasantly surprised to find lush green vegetation and beech forest with roaring rivers. Unfortunately, I have no pictures to show since the camera batteries had run out.
All in, it took me six hours to complete the trek, but it was well-worth every minute, every blister and a pair of hot feet! Go if you have the chance, for the Tongariro Crossing is indeed the best day walk in New Zealand.