Taupo and the Tongariro Crossing

Trip Start Aug 11, 2010
Trip End May 21, 2011

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Monday, November 1, 2010

We journeyed south to Taupo, famous for its huge lake and volcanic scenery. After previously staying for several nights without modern luxuries like electricity, showers or hot water, we decided to splash out and stay at our first holiday park. A shameful amount of joy came over us as we watched excitedly as our microwave lit up and our dreams of watching a video on our laptop, free of power issues, ensued. In fact, an overwhelming desire to seize the moment happened and almost instinctively, after an 8 km walk into town, we ordered the typical New Zealand cuisine of Chinese chicken curry.

One of our main reasons for visiting Taupo was to trek the Tongariro crossing. Inconveniently against utilising our new luxury facilities, we booked a very early shuttle service, at 5.40am, to take us to the start of the 19km hike. The trek started through a valley that was strewn with rocks from nearby volcanoes and cut up by fast flowing streams, sourced from melting snow on higher ground. As we journeyed further we passed along the base of a volcano that was used to form Mount Doom in 'The Lord of The Rings' films. For us, this was how a real volcano should look; symmetrically steep sided with red tints and a snowy peak. The colour contrasts were vivid: black rock with patches of white snow against crystal clear blue skies.

Our trip continued gaining higher ground above the snowline and into the huge crater of the active Tongariro volcano. Vegetation had long passed and the landscape became hard and barren with snow gathered in what we originally thought were areas shadowed from the sun. We were wrong and we soon realised why some areas of the huge crater were dry just by touching the ground. The rocks beneath us were hot, which was a unique experience for us both. We climbed further through areas of thick snow and testing scree slopes and stopped for lunch to enjoy incredible views of steaming vents with multi-coloured rocks and emerald green lakes. This viewpoint was a highlight for both of us and we enjoyed our lunch perched on a heated scrub of long grass overlooking views that were a marvel to behold. A nearby green lake had a shelf of snow jutting out of one edge. Through the contrast of colours, this was something that only added to the lake’s beauty. We could also hear water bubbling underground and could quickly become enveloped by the steam from vents if we stood in the wrong place for too long.

The latter part of the walk steeply zig-zagged down wild scrubland, similar to the moorlands of England, until it finally reached a vast rainforest at the bottom. After just under 8 hours of trekking and what seemed like a beautiful, though never-ending, last section, we ran through the rainforest until we reached the final pick up point. I felt that we had really witnessed the accessible variety of beauty that New Zealand can offer because within the space of a 19km trek, we climbed active volcanoes, trudged through snow, marvelled at lakes, descended through moorland and walked through a rainforest. New Zealand’s arms had drawn us in and we were looking forward to seeing what else it could possibly offer, but not before nursing blistered feet and chomping on a bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk!
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Burper blower on

Now thats what i call a proper walk. Sounds amazing!

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