The Tongariro Crossing is probably one of the hardest hikes I’ve ever completed, but to be able to walk one of the ‘sets; of my favourite books/movies made it all totally worth while. Call me sad, but I’m a big Lord of the Rings fan. I’ve read the books, watched the films and occasionally dress as a wizard … actually that last ones a lie, but I imagine being a wizard to be quite cool.
Whilst on the Kiwi Experience being driven around the country’s north island, one of our scheduled stop offs was Taupo. Taupo is probably most famous for its sky diving, 15,000 ft, oxygen assisted. Personally I didn’t have the money, but all the videos the other on the Kiwi bus had taken looked amazing. What I did spend money on in Taupo though, was a national park entrance fee and renting some hiking spikes so that I could take on the Tongariro crossing. Where’s the Lord of the Rings link you ask. Well the Tongariro crossing was used as the location for Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings movies. I was hiking Mt Doom!
The Tongariro crossing
The day started pretty early, too early for breakfast at least, but we thought that there must be food available somewhere in the national park, at a gift shop maybe … if only. My then girlfriends and I had to do the 7 hr hike with only an apple and a small packet of crisps between us. This is not advised!
As we started out on the Tongariro Crossing there was snow on the ground as we started our trek, but as per usually procedure once we were up to speed layers had to come off. The first few hours we just seemed to be climbing, very little was said as all our energy was put into pumping our legs up and over the the combination of gravel and huge boulders.
But once we had pumped our legs, hauled ourselves over seemingly endless ridges, these are the kind of views that filled our eyes. The smell of sulphur also stung the nostrils and you could at times see the gases escaping from the around our feet, the lakes in sight were an emerald/green colour as a result. It was almost sensory overload, but it was beautiful to say the least!
The decent downwards was almost just as had as the ascent. But we did get some marvelous views of Lake Taupo. We were however on a timer and had to be at the hikes end by a certain time to catch our bus back to our hostel. We couldnt hang around for too long.
The home straight reminded me of a scene from the film Gladiator I was plodding at this point, sadly taking less and less as my body felt like it was shutting down. The sense of achievement as we reached the end check point was amazing though. We celebrated that night with a pizza hut buffet and long hot showers!
The above is a perfect example of getting info from other backpackers. I hadn’t really heard about the Tongariro Crossing until a couple of Canadian backpackers in Auckland mentioned it, and said it was the best thing they’d done since they’d been in NZ. I’m glad I listened to them and followed in their footsteps … my pace might have been slightly slower than theirs though.