Tuesday November 1st, Tongariro crossing
An early start of the day today as we had to leave the hotel at 6:45 to drive 33Km to the Ketetahi carpark where a shuttle bus would take us to the Mangatepopo carpark where the Tongariro crossing path starts. There were already patches of blue in the sky when we started this 19Km hike and as the day went on we enjoyed mostly sunshine until the end.
The first part of the walk is easy going with several stretches of boardwalk but after about an hour the path became more steep and more difficult. After a while we had a more even surface when we crossed the crater while having a great view of the snow covered volcano towering above us.
The views along the way were great but climbing the mountain was getting harder and harder even with the many steps that are supposed to make it easier. We finally made it to the first summit that gave us a panorama of the Emerald Lakes. From there it was downhill along a volcanic rock/sand path that was very steep and had a loose surface so we more or less “glided” down. Halfway the slope we got a nice view of the red crater before getting to the Emerald lakes where we sat down next to the water to have lunch.
As we continued we had to climb again until we arrived at Blue lake. As we saw people climbing yet again we knew the next part would not be easy, there was still some snow and ice on the path and a chain and cable were provided to keep our balance and help us pulling up the very steep narrow path.
From here most of the hike was downhill again but that didn’t mean it was a lot easier as we had to cross a few snowfields. When we arrived at the last hut, with toilets, we still had to cover 6Km. We could see the parking lot from above but it seemed there was no end to the path, it still took us 2 hours to finally get back to the car.
The GPS told us we covered 22Km in about 8,5 hours or 2.6 Km an hour including eating/drinking and photo/video stops. At least, we were happy to be back and get some rest.