Today we did the most well known one day walk in NZ called the Tongariro Crossing. A very early start. The coach picked us up at 5:40am. The jovial driver entertained us as we toured around other hostels and then drove the hour trip to the start point in Tongariro National Park. We were the first coach to arrive and therefore got a headstart on the crowds (on a busy day several hundred people do the walk). We departed Mangetapopo Road at 07:20 in the early morning chill. The first hour is flat and easy with the volcano impressively rising to the right, but then there is a long and tortous walk/scramble up the Devil's Staircase. Lovely views out over a crater are the reward. The walk through the South Crater is flat and desolate with some small patches of snow. There is then climb on an exposed ridge to the lip of the Red Crater. This wind was fairly strong and Jen didn't like the fairly narrow ridge and uncertain footing (as the pamphlet said - if you fall off into the crater at this point, you're not coming back). Eventually after much encouragement Jen made it over and
The end is approx. 7-8 hours from here according to the sign
down the other side for a snack by the lovely Emerald Lakes. The clouds had descended quite a bit an sadly obscured more distant views. Unfortunately at this point my camera warned me that desoite recharging them they were low so I had to economise on photo taking. We climbed again to the acidic Blue Lake and then descended through alpine plants in increasing cloud. We stopped for a breather at the Ketetahi Hut and then continued down the painful jarring steps into verdant bushland for the last hour. It had been a wonderful walk and we felt very satisfied as we lazed waiting for our coach back. The sun came out to cheer us while we waited.