The Tongariro Alpine Crossing whatever the weather.

So once again I find myself waking to the sound of my alarm blasting at 4.30am. Today is the day of my fifth Tongariro Alpine Crossing, so with breakfast and coffee down the hatch, it was time to step out into the crisp morning air and wait for the bus to arrive to take me from Lake Taupo Top 10 Holiday Resort to the beginning of today's trek.

By: P. Morris & B. Lusty

Courtesy of Lake Taupo Top 10 Holiday Resort.

Once the Tongariro Expeditions bus had arrived I jump on board and am greeted with a smile from an enthusiastic guide named Yak, we then picked up the rest of the hikers hailing from country’s all over the world keen to sample the best one day walk in New Zealand.  

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing has dual World Heritage status for its cultural importance and its rugged yet very beautiful ever changing landscape. Many will recognise Mount Ngauruhoe aka Mount Doom as seen in The Lord of The Rings and the soon to be released The Hobbit.

Mt Doom - Tongariro National Park

Once at the top you have reached South Crater (1650m) and from here you aim for the Red Crater at the summit (1882m) ensuring you go slow enough to have plenty of time for photos and to bask in the sun particularly when the weather is so changeable on the mountains. It is very wise to pack plenty of layers as it can be glorious sunshine one minute then cloud can descend and the temperature with it.  

Soon you will pass some beautiful mountain springs called the Emerald Lakes and from here the hike starts to wind down the other side towards our final decent and the Ketetahi carpark where you will meet your bus and guide from the beginning of the day. If you want to use your own transport then the helpful guys at Tongariro Expeditions can collect you from your vehicle at the end of the track and bus you to the beginning so that once you've finished you can hop into your own car and drive home. 

Your 19 km trek starts at Mangatepopo Valley (1100m) then heads between the saddles of Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe towards a steep section called the Devils Staircase. This part of the day is quite a challenge for most but it's great to get the main climb out of the way early when the air is cool and you're full of energy. 

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is open all year round and is a very different animal during the winter and must be fully guided so pull on your thermals and pop a concrete pill or two, collect your ice axes and crampons then utilise your guides wealth of knowledge which will help you through this winter wonderland for a full on exciting extravaganza of a day. Don't forget to take your camera because if the day holds up you will get some awesome shots from Red Crater.

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