Most people who know me well would think ‘Anita doing a 7 hour hike? No way’. Yes, I am lazy sometimes and don’t like huge fitness tasks, but I decided to do this for a bit of a challenge (also my boyfriend was over from London and he loves this sort of thing).
This was the start of our Wairarapa to Auckland roadie. We had a map (from one of the information centres), that had all the DOC (Department of Conservation) campsites around NZ so, if you’re camping I highly suggest you grab one of those. It’s free and you can find them at any information centre around New Zealand. We visited the Tongariro Visitor Centre which is at the start of the hike, so we could ask them what was the best way to tackle the walk the following day, and if the weather conditions were going be safe. They were very helpful and told us that the best way to do it is to leave your car at the end of the crossing (Ketetahi), and get a shuttle to the start point (Mongatepopo), because they have security guards watching the Ketetahi car park all day. She gave us a list of shuttle companies so we randomly picked one to go with. There are Adventure HQ, Tongariro Expeditions and Discovery. They are all the same price, $30. It’s a really good idea to visit the centre to check the weather and also the route you will be taking. If you don’t have time to visit then simply give them a ring, their contact details are here.
The following morning we started our journey over the Lord of the Rings-like landscape! We started around 9am, which I thought was a decent time but we were the ‘late starters’. Our first stop was Soda Springs which I’m guessing would be more impressive if we weren’t in a drought!
The trek was tough and maybe a walking pole and hiking shoes might have been a good thing to take, because at some points I felt like I was freestyle rock climbing, and my one fear in life is falling backwards on rocks so that was interesting, but I got through it!
The view at the top was beautiful. The Emerald Lakes were very impressive and the terrain was just something so stunningly different. I would compare it to what you think Mars would look like. We had a nice lunch by the craters and overheard a guy who went up Mt Ngauruhoe as well (Mt Doom). He said it was amazing and like nothing he’s experienced, but very dangerous as there is no safety net up there. From his description it made me want to do that extra hike up there next time. I think I just set myself up for another challenge…shit.
If you want to experience what is proved to be the best one-day hike in New Zealand then definitely go do this crossing. It took us 7 hours in total which I think is the average. It’s quite incredible and very satisfying seeing your car at the finish line!
The campsite we stayed at the night before the crossing was called Mangahuia. There were kitchen sinks and benches, water and long drops. It was a pretty good campsite to stay at because it was only 20 minute drive to the Ketetahi car park, and is close to the river if you need a wash! Get there before 5 because after then it got quite busy and filled up fast with all the hikers!