Te Araroa – Day 51 & 52

Day 52 – Tongariro Holiday Park – Day off

The forecast for today was wind, showers and clouds, not the best conditions to do the Tongariro Crossing, so the day was spent at the holiday park. The hope was that the forecast for the following day of cloud clearing in the morning would provide a good day to do the crossing.

With the Tongariro Holiday park being in the middle of nowhere. There was no where to go for the day or do. So at 9am in the morning I went and sat on one of the couches in the TV and Games Room and pretty much didn’t move for the rest of the day. I read a chapter or two on my kindle. Watched some Netflix on my phone. Watched the midday movie ‘She’s the Man’ and a lot of good/bad TV sitcoms. It was the most relaxing day off I have had.

Day 53 – Tongariro Holiday Park to Whakapapa Holiday Park – 35km (1130km total)

The Tongariro Crossing is a really popular tourist walk. People park at one end, get shuttled to the other and walk back to their cars. For them it is a 19km walk. For the TA walker it is 35km in between camping spots and we do it in the opposite direction to most. Giving us 1000m of elevation gain. 350m more then if done in the other direction. Of course the TA likes to do things the hard way 😏.

Extra 350m elevation, no worries.

The day started with a 7km road walk to the start of the crossing. It was a lovely stroll up through a forest before exiting the tree line to a view of mountains, volcanos and lakes. In one direction I could see Lake Rotoaira and further in the distance Lake Taupo and in the other Mt Ngauruhoe, famous for being Mt Doom in the Lord of the Rings.

I was expecting the day to be hard, but I took it slowly and it was actually quite pleasant. Before I knew it I had reached 12km and an old hut on the route. It is now not in use due to damage in an eruption in 2012.

Hut damage. It was the middle of winter and no one was in the hut.

As you continue to climb past the hut, you come out to a Mars like landscape to one side and the Blue Lake on the other. It is then a short walk to central crater where the fun begins. It is a 140m climb up to the highest point on the trail so far at 1840m but it is all loose rock (scree). People were slipping and falling onto their butts as they made their way down and I was walking at the speed of a backward tortoise as I took one step up and slide it back down, but once at the top there was Mt Ngauruhoe in all her glory.

The Blue Lake
Mt Ngarahoe aka Mt Doom

On the way back down it was again through a Mars like landscape then down to one of the huts for people who do the crossing as a circuit. Up to this point I was loving the day, but then tiredness kicked in with 9km to go to Whakapapa Village on a very hot afternoon. Great for the amazing views during the day, not so great for energy levels as the day went on. Consequently, with 5km to go I laid down on a bridge in the shade put my feet up and laid there for half an hour. That was until I realise a plane was flying overhead and if they looked down they would have seen a pink shirt not moving and thought I was dead. So I got up and trudged the last 5km into the Holiday Park.

The Tongariro Crossing deserves all of the hype that is given to it. It was a beautiful day with amazing scenery and I am thankful that I got to experience on a day with such good weather.

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