Coming over to New Zealand I hadn’t really planned on doing too many hikes. Since this expedition was more about surfing and snowboarding I wasn’t really interested in doing any more walks after the amazing Milford Track which is considered one of the most beautiful walks in the world, and after doing it, I can see why.
However, I was told of a day walk on the north island that was suppose to be New Zealands best day hike, and it went across the Tangariro National park which is basically a massive volcanic area that has several peaks, one of which was used as Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings.
I drove down from Auckland mid week to the center of the North Island south of Lake Taupo. I arrived late, around 8 pm and decided to sleep in the van at the car park at the end of the track. I had arranged a ride from the end of the track to the beginning so I could just walk back to the van. It generally takes 6-8 hours to complete the track and goes over 2 volcanic peaks over a 18.5 K (11.5 miles).
I made a quick dinner and had the back of the van open for about 30 min while I cooked at dusk, which was a big mistake because the mosquitoes where vicious and huge. The whole night I was awoken by buzzing in my ear, and had to use a flashlight to try and find them. I must have killed 30 throughout the night.
The next morning I was picked up by a shuttle and driven to the start of the track about 22 k away around the volcanic pass. I started the walk with about 50 people around 9 a.m.
The morning and beginning of the track was fairly clear and sunny, but as we climbed up to the pass the clouds rolled in and socked in most of the good views of Mount Ruapehu and the summit walk to Mt Ngauruhoe. I was pretty annoyed wit the cloud cover, and knew I was missing some spectacular views.
Once over the pass, we walked out to a huge flat crater. At times is was so foggy I couldn’t see feet in front of me. Once in a while the cloud would blow through and a clearing would open up, and the scale of the place could be felt.
Once through the crater we climbed up onto the Red Crater. This massive hole in the ground would be what one would think a volcanic crater would look like.
We walked up and over the Red Crater and descended down a steep ash slope to emerald pools.
The rest of the walk was out and down the volcanic plane and down the backside of the mountain through bush and then forest and finally back to the van. It took me 7 hours and several blisters.