Tongariro Alpine Crossing

1 02 2012

The highlight of my holiday in New Zealand was the 20km hike over the volcanic region around the Tongariro and Ngauruhoe mountains in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island which are actually volcanoes. The scenery at the top was outstanding and exotic. You can read more at www.tongarirocrossing.org.nz

I started off by taking a shuttle bus from Turangi to the Mangatepopo car park to join the hundreds of other treckers doing the crossing. It’s good to see so many people prepared to walk 20km over rough tracks and a climb from under 1100m to nearly 1900m on the way up and then down to under 800m at the end, but it makes the area seem less wild and a less than great adventure.

Right at the start of the crossing I found the cache The Crossing Starts Here in a camo pouch that seems to be typical for the owners caches.

The first hour was a gentle hour and a quarter stroll uphill from the car park to the first earthcache These Mountains Are Made Of Thisat 1415m.

ds8300 at earthcache "Mountains Are Made Of This"Lava from Mt Doom!

Then the fun began! The next part of the walk was a further uphill stretch past the earthcache Nguaruhoe – Mt Doom,

ds8300 with Mt Doom in the background

which made it’s fame in the film trilogy The Lord of the Rings, on to the part of the walk called the Devil’s Staircase. Over a stretch of 1.4km the track wound up to 1652m, a climb of 237m. It took 40 min to get to where I found the appropriately named Devil’s Staircase cache.

Logging the find at Devil's Staircase

Mt Doom in the background

It was supposed to be easy going from there on but apart from the flat south crater there was a further 55min walk of 2.1km and 194m up to the rim of the Red Craterat 1846m where the next earthcache was located.

The final ridge before the Red Crater

First glimpse of the Red CraterThe Red Crater

From here it was only 370m to the next earthcache The Emerald Lakes.

On the way down to the Emerald LakesFlows of lava and ash on the walk down to the Emerald LakesThe three Emerald Lakes

At both places the views were magnificant and completely different to anything else I have ever seen. There was also a physical cache located here Emerald Lakes

Sulphourous steameroles just beyond the Emerald Lakes

From then on it was all downhill although the first few hundred meters were in loose ash and rocks from the volcano and it was quite an adventure getting down without ending up in a heap of ash. The slope is clearly seen in the photo below.

Flows of lava and ash on the walk down to the Emerald LakesLake Taupo in the distance. Only 8km to go to the car park.

There were a couple more caches on the way down but there were so many muggles around I thought is just as well to pass them by. The main experience was the crossing itself. It was good to get to the car park at Ketetahi and get on the bus. It took just under six and a half hours to do the walk. Would I do it again? Yes, definitely.

Here is what it looks like on Google Earth.

Tongariro Crossing on GE

The crossing on Google Earth

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