I finally made it down to National Park for the weekend and did the Tongariro Alpine Crossing! We were meant to do it halfway through February but the weather wasn’t any good, so we had to wait another month. I went down on a Friday afternoon with my friend and her mum. It is about a 3 hour drive down to National Park from Hamilton so we wanted to leave before the after work traffic and get there earlyish so we could get an early night and so we were fresh for our early start on Saturday morning!
We stayed at Discovery Lodge which is about a 10min drive from the start of the crossing, and they have a shuttle to drop you off and pick you up after the walk. My friend and I stayed in a room that had a bathroom, small fridge, kettle and a tv. My friends mum stayed in a studio that also had a living area and kitchen. The beds were really comfy and everything was clean and good value for money. We booked into the restaurant both nights as you are kinda in the middle of nowhere and we didn’t want to bother with bringing food to make dinners. The menu was really good, a little on the expensive side but you got alot for your money. The staff were really friendly and easygoing. They even provided people with raincoats that didn’t have one or their ones were not going to keep them dry for 8 hours.
We had dinner at the restaurant at 6pm then headed to our rooms to turn in for the night. We didn’t get through a full episode of Graham Norton before we were falling asleep, it wasn’t even 8.30pm! After an okay sleep, our alarms were going off at 5am. We had enough time to get dressed and have a quick snack before we got aboard the shuttle. We got offered a get out of jail card free as it was raining and scheduled to be occasional showers but there was no way we were going to turn back now after having to wait a month already!
It was pitch black and not too cold as we had a few layers on as the low at times was to be 3 degrees. As we got going my hand was cold from holding a torch and we were dodging puddles constantly – not always, sometimes they got the better of us. Since it was so dark there wasn’t much to look at and since there were so many puddles it was not wise to anyway unless you wanted soaked feet.
After about an hour and a half we started to see light which was nice, and the rain died off. The scenery on the crossing was like being on Mars. It was so desolate.
The clouds/mist was quite low so we didn’t get massive views across the country. We had good views in and out over the emerald lakes, where we stopped for lunch and got some good pics. Then it was back to it. The walk overall was very long, 19.4km to be exact. Once we got past the emerald lakes and started on the descent, the walk seemed to drag. It was a slow decline and the track just seemed to go on and on, and the last 6kms took about 1hr 1/2. By that stage I was ready for the walk to be over, there wasn’t much of a view until we got about halfway down below the clouds and we could see out to Lake Rotoaira. My feet were starting to rub between my toes, and it didn’t help that I had scoria sand in my shoes from coming down the side of red crater to the emerald lakes.
We were finally starting to see light at the end of the tunnel when the trees were looking a bit more sparse, and we came to the carpark where there was alot of seating where we could sit down – best feeling ever!
My body has not felt this tired in a long time. When we got back in the shuttle about half an hour after finishing I was nearly falling asleep, and my whole body just felt heavy and needed rest.
Overall I would recommend the walk to anyone who has a generally good fitness level, there is a couple of really hard sections where there is alot of stairs and then no stairs but a steep incline. On the way down there were a few stairs, but mostly it was just a long winding slope down.
I was sore for a couple of days afterwards then I was fine, although my friends mum was sore until Wednesday. I definitely want to do it again when the weather is clearer so I can get better views as we missed out on so much, at the same time we were lucky that we didn’t have worse weather.
Let me know down below your favourite walks around NZ!
Until next time x