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Hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Peter Braun


The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a very popular 19km day walk in New Zealand as the scenery is amazing and many scenes and locations in Lord of the Rings were filmed here. However this is not the easiest and can be dangerous. As I found out today the crossing can be extremely windy at higher elevations making it cold as well. This hike can be done from either end to the other, but transport is needed in between. I was lucky to stay at a lodge with a shuttle so I got first class service to and from the hike. The hike can take between 7-9 hours for the average person, but somehow I did it in 5:45. 






The morning part was very cloudy and misty. I could not even see much of the surrounding mountains and as I was crossing from Soda Springs to the South Crater and the Red Crater I could not see much. It felt very desolate and seemed like something the moon may be like. The climb to the Red Crater was so windy I was afraid if I fell I would not stay on the trail. At one point you have to use a chain attached to the side of the hill to climb up and keep you footing. The shuttle driver said that less than an hour after I crossed a gust of almost 100km was recorded on top.




Soda Springs







The views were much better as I descended to the Emerald Lakes. This area is an active volcano and volcanic area so there was only volcanic matter and the climb was very loose so at times everyone was sliding. Once I got to the Emerald Lakes in a few minutes the clouds lifted a bit and a short while later the sun came out. The Emerald Lakes are blue/green and have the rotten egg smell from sulphur. Their color is from minerals being leached out from the mountain side. 


Emerald Lake







The final part is a walk through the Volcanic active zone. So there are many warning lights to let you know if it is safe. The volcano has not been very active but erupted in only 2012. So precaution has to be taken. That eruption even sent rocks and boulders over 2km away and actually crushed rooms in a hut for sleeping. No one was in it that time and not the hut is closed for camping. 










The Volcano is still active



Damage from the 2012 eruption



Glad no one was in there



This was an incredible walk that could have been better if the clouds were not there in the morning. Still to be walking on a volcanic site is pretty incredible. New Zealand is amazing, in three days I have seen a glacier, rain forests, and a volcano. 


A short drive from the National Park Village to Rotorua that took only 218.8km (135.9 miles) so now I have 2708.3km (1682.8 miles) on my journey. Due to my procrastination and not sure of where the trip would take me each night as well as this being Easter weekend I am staying in a holiday park where I get to sleep in the car. Oh well the facilities are really nice and it is cheap. 


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