Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tongariro Alpine Crossing - kind of

We left Taupo early on Tuesday, February 5 to get to Tongariro National Park (about an hour drive) in hopes of dropping our stuff off so we could go to the Waitomo Caves. But the caves are 2 hours from Tongariro and a three hour activity - a total of 7+ hours…so, we opted to stay in and get ready for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing on Wednesday morning. We rested up, did some laundry and even prepared our meals for the two days.

Wednesday morning, February 6, we set off to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Tongariro National Park is the oldest National Park in New Zealand and is home to Mt. Ruapehu, Mt. Tongariro, and Mt. Ngauruhoe (Mt. Doom from Lord of the Rings). 

At the start...Mt. Ngauruhoe (aka Mt. Doom) in the background

The conditions did not permit us to actually complete the entire crossing of 17 kilometers but we got to go about 7 kilometers, reached the highest point of the crossing (1886 meters - over 6,000 feet) and saw the infamous Blue and Emerald Lakes before having to turn back to walk another 7 km (so a total of 14 km/8.5 miles).

It's so far away!
A shot of Mt. Ruapehu
Trying to capture some flowers in the shot
Grueling but satisfying
I was sweating in my 8 layers by the time we got to this point
It was very red - Paul was pretending to be Arnold on Mars in Total Recall
Mt. Ngauruhoe and lava rock

As we got closer to the active volcano, it was comforting to read tips on what to do should it erupt

It was super steep
Paul claiming Mt. Doom as his
The Red Crater
Blue Lake in the background
We were literally in the clouds - see one of the little Emerald Lakes?
Climbing down was a lot harder than climbing up

Walking back 
Sky reflections

It took us just under 7 hours...and with the steep hills and windy conditions, it was a miracle I only fell twice. Paul didn't think that it was worth the pain he's in right now but the scenery was beautiful.

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