The only thing that Nick and I absolutely had to do in New Zealand was hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. It’s a 19.4k, one-way hike that brings you through the entire length of Mt. Tongariro.
Along the way, you climb a staircase known as “Devil’s Staircase,” walk through volcanic rock, and watch Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings (Mt. Ngauruhoe) looming over you in the distance. You get to see volcanic vents and places called Red Crater, Blue Lake, and Soda Springs. It was literally incredible – some parts seriously felt like another world.
This was the hardest hike I have ever done. It was so steep in some parts, I wasn’t sure I would make it! This was kind of offset by lots of flat land, and the last part was mostly downhill, which helped a lot. Since it is a one-way hike, you have to get someone to drop you off at one end and pick you up at the other. I think that this is kind of what made it hard, too, because we had to make sure we got back on time to get picked up. There were so many times I wanted to just sit and enjoy the views, but I knew we had to keep moving to get back at a specific time. On the plus side, there are two bathrooms along the way, which was awesome!
As we learned firsthand, the weather is unpredictable and is constantly changing. A few kilometers after we started, we realized that we had picked probably the worst day to go. It started raining not that long after we started, but we kept going! It was an awesome day, and Nick and I decided that we will just have to come back to New Zealand so we can hike it again on a nice day. I don’t think there is anything I can say to do this 19.4k stretch of untouched New Zealand land justice, so here are some of my favorite pictures.
Blue Lake was the part of the hike that I was most excited to see. I’ve heard it described as alien-like and otherworldly, and, even in the rain, it lived up to the hype. Despite the rain and time crunch, I made Nick stop so we could get a quick picture.
Around here, it started raining really hard and we had to keep the camera away for most of the hike. I was kind of bummed that we didn’t get to take as many pictures as we would have wanted, but I’m so glad we got the pictures we did.
We stayed at the Adventure Lodge and Motel, right near the start of the hike. It was such the perfect place for people hiking the Crossing. We got there the night before our hike so that we could go to bed early and rest.
We got an awesome package with our room that included breakfast the morning of the hike, a packed lunch to eat on the trail, dinner when we got back, and another breakfast the next morning. They also dropped us off at the start, giving us some super helpful tips for the hike, and then picked us up at the finish. This worked out really well because there aren’t many stores or places to eat in the area. I was really glad we got to just stay at the lodge for all of our food. After hiking 19.4 kilometers. I didn’t really want to be driving around looking for food.
As soon as we got back, Nick and I went right into their hot tub and then walked down to the dining room for a steak dinner, salads, and beer! We were the only people who had gotten that package, so one of the hosts, Jason, ended up driving us and making dinner just for us. He made the most delicious steaks and told us a lot about the area. He was an awesome host and really made us feel like we were at home. I would definitely go back to the Adventure Lodge!
The next day we took a much-needed break from hiking and went wine tasting in Napier!