15 February 2011

Tongariro National Park & Taupo

At the highest part of the Tongariro Crossing (the Blue Lake in the background)

The Red Crater
Often described as the best one-day walk in New Zealand, we couldn't pass up the chance to walk the Tongariro Crossing, especially when we found out that the unpronounceable Mount Ngauruhoe was used as the setting for Mount Doom in Lord Of The Rings.

At the Emerald Lakes
The first few kilometres of the walk were a gradual climb by the side of a little stream that opened out to the Soda Springs waterfall. After that, the track became extremely steep and we had to take rest stops every five minutes. The climb was made even more difficult because of the loose rocks underfoot (in winter it is covered in snow and apparently easier to walk on) but we carried on, despite a couple of moments where turning back felt more preferable.

We kept on inching our way up the mountain, until - thank goodness - we reached a plateau and realised we were standing close to the South Crater underneath the summit of 'Mount Doom' (whose seven-note motif from Lord Of The Rings was hummed most of the way up). Staring up at the conical volcano - which is still active - I was relieved there were no imminent eruptions expected!

Mount Ngauruhoe
Although we were feeling physically drained at this point, we knew it would be foolish to turn back when we were just one more steep climb away from seeing the Red Crater and the Emerald Lakes, so we carried on over the exposed ridge (thankful for the lack of wind).

A bargain at just $1380 (£650)!
When we finally made it to the top, what we saw blew us away. Below us were the three Emerald Lakes which appeared almost fluorescent green. The contrast of the dusty Red Crater nearby and the serene Blue Lake in the distance completed an unforgettable view.

At Honey Hive
By the time we had walked back to the campervan, we had been on our feet for seven hours, walked over nine miles (mostly uphill) and had sunburnt faces to prove it!

The next day, we headed towards New Zealand's largest lake and relaxed at a holiday park in Taupo, where we recharged our gadgets as well as our weary bodies!

Not quite a hole-in-one but pretty close - honestly!
On our second day, we saw the roaring Huka Falls and stopped in at Honey Hive, where we tasted and tested loads of honey products. We also went to New Zealand's largest underground wine cellar and walked past the expensive bottles with great care.

I also tried my hand at the Lake Taupo Hole-In-One Challenge. I had a few near-misses and unfortunately didn't manage to get my hands on the $10,000 prize. If it had been free to play, I would have been there for days on end!



  1. Brilliant! We did the Tongarira crossing as well, and were very pleased with ourselves - though we did not have such spectacular weather as you did, so did not have quite such good views!

  2. I can see you both getting into some serious hill walking in the Cairngorms when you come home. Well done and what a reward!


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