New Zealand has some remarkable aventure spots, hidden gems, and walking trecks, which is one of the reasons I love my country so much. One of these aventures, a 4 and a half hour drive south of Auckland is the Tongiriro Crossing.
The Tongiriro National Park has so much to offer, from cultral identity to awe-inspiring scenery, the 19.4 kilometre journey will challange you physically, reward you mentally and show you that although the climbs are steep, the views make it worth every step.
I walked the 6 and a half hour treck in Feburary 2016 with my boyfriend Bryn, his mum and his uncle, and boy was it epic! Up at 5am, bags packed full of lunch, water, thermals and a GoPro, we set off just after 7am and to be honest my first thoughts were, oh shit I hope I dont need to go toilet today. With only 2 long drops along the way, your best bet is to try go before you start, or hold the fuck on.
The first section of the trek is relitively flat as you make your way toward the devils staircase (The first real hard uphill climb of the crossing). With the sun rising behind you, you quickly warm up, but the wind can be cooooooold, so keep on your wind breaker untill the uphill atleast.
The Devils Staircase…oooooooush, yup, its exactly as it sounds. You look up and think “why the helllllll am I doing this?!” but the beauty of it is that you just do. Up up up you go, climbing over 200 steps before you come out the otherside. Although the staircase is hard, its relatively short and once you hit the top, your back on flat terrain, for a while…thank god.
This whole uphill, flat, uphill, flat thing goes on for another hour or so, and parts of this are so out this world, it actually feels like your walking on Mars…or hand standing.
After one last and hard uphill you finally get to the remarkable crater lakes and god daym these are beautiful.
But before you get down to them, you first gotta find a way…The downhill is steep, unstable and a little bit daunting for the average joe…But for my boyfriend and I, we ditched the slow and steady concept and charged down like we were on a slip and slide, just substitute the water and soap, for rocks and dirt. We raced each other down, scratched up our legs and finally made it to the crater lakes for a much deserved LUNCH.. yusssss!
From this moment on, the trek is a real challange. Though nothing is as physically hard as the first half, I noticed that my body was just sore and tired. You keep on keepin on past the biggest and most beautiful crater lake, where you get to stop and admire the crystal blue colour of the water. Not sure if you’re supposed to touch the water, but ofcourse Bryndle did.
As you push yourself further and further your head starts to think “are we there yet?!” Trust me…when you start to think that…NO YOU ARE NOT ANYWHERE NEAR THERE YET. Down the otherside you go, winding your way backdown the volcano. At this point, my ankles were so sore, I was walking like a 90 year old with a carrot up her ass and still with another 2(ish) hours to go. By now, the novetly of the view has worn off, so you ocupy yourselves with impromtue sing-a-longs, random stories and the odd game of i-spy.
The last 3km of the trek is through the bush and its so nice to finally have some shade! A lahar warning sign, reminds you that you’ve actually walked accross a volcano and as you smell the end, your head goes nuts with the excitement of taking your shoes off and drinking a cold beer or 5.
Hooooooley hell, I thought, as I collapsed into bed 7 hours later. What an incredibally challenging but amazingly beautiful adventure we have on our backyards here in New Zealand. I can only recommend it to all of you reading this, its upto you to actually make it happen so I say get out there and do it! You wont regret it.
A helping hand from me to you:
- Book your accomodation for the weekend through the many lodges, backpackers or hotels in National Park. Airbnb is a good option also if you want a house to yourselves.
- Shuttles can be easily organised for pick up and drop off – this can be booked through the lodges, even if you’re not staying there.
- Pack your bags the night before to make sure you dont forget anything
- Take warm clothes, even if you do it in the heart of summer, it will be cold up there! You can always chuck it in your backpack later
- Start early, 7am…before the crowds pack in…on an average day you can get 1000 people doing the trek
- Try go to the toilet first haha…take toilet paper just in case! When you gotta go, you gotta go
- Make sure you have enough water (I took 2 pump bottles and this was plenty)
- A GoPro and snap chat are essential to show people how well you did, and to get them wanting to do it themselves.
- Easy to eat food like sandwhiches and scroggin will keep you full and provide good energy
- Wear comfortable shoes that you’ve already worn in. We wore nikes, probs not the most supportive, but they did the trick. Hiking boots would be ideal!
- If you got sore bits, protect em! Take strapping tape, braces or whatever you can to not roll another ankle
- Take something for blisters!
- Attitude is everything, go into it positive and you’ll have an epic time
- If your like us, take a beer each to enjoy at the top
Thanks for reading 😀
Leah | free & addicted