The Tongariro Alpine Crossing on the North Island, New Zealand
Living in Utah for the last 6 years has given me the opportunity to do some sick hikes all over the Rockies. But when heading down under to the land of Hobbits and Kiwi fruit, there are so many various hikes it’s overwhelming! The king of them all, which brings you along “Mt. Doom” is more memorable than any I have done before.
The hike is called Tongariro Alpine Crossing and is famed for being the best “one day hike” in the world. It did not disappoint. Although the site was in high danger for an eruption when we wanted to hike it, we found out it was safe to go by many people. Every morning the car park for the hike opens at 6:00am and they only let 60 cars in (which fills up in about 30 minutes). Then, it is closed for the day and you must take a $35 shuttle. Since we were poor backpackers we really wanted to get our car in there so we woke up at about 5:00am and drove from our campsite to get in. We didn’t put our camper bed away fully, so once we got a spot in the lot we went back to bed and slept until about 7:15.
We woke up and as the clouds began to part we were able to see the massive volcano Mt. Ngauruhoe looking down at us . This Volcano is famous for being filmed as “Mt. Doom” in The Lord of the Rings and looks just as scary in person. We waited for the weather report at 8:00, then left on our journey. The hike is almost 11 miles in total climbing around 2,700 vertical feet and takes 7 hours for the average hiker. Usually you just hike over the ridge lines and a shuttle brings you back to your car, however, a volcano that we hiked by erupted in August of last year so now you just walk a little over half way up the trail and back.
The hike was gorgeous and nothing like I had ever seen before. It started out on a narrow trail climbing through a river area where the water was bright orange from the volcanoes around. Luckily we didn’t see any Orc’s but once we got in a little further the hike got extremely steep, very fast, as we began to scale up the volcano. After a few hours we made it to the top, which had gorgeous views all around us including four beautiful bright turquoise-blue lakes. We hiked down to the water and enjoyed our lunch of a couple sandwiches and a celebratory beer of course.
After taking in the scenery, we made our way down, body sore but satisfied from a hike that I will remember for a lifetime. Definitely something that should not to be missed while on the North Island in NZ.