Once and a while the weather isn’t on your side, this was definitely one of them. Having been told that tomorrow was “the day” to hike the Tongariro Crossing, we slept early and headed off before sunrise. As the sun rose it was clear that the weather was not yet ready to cooperate, we would be doing the world’s greatest one-day hike, renowned for amazing views, in thick fog. With 7-8 hours of hiking over varied terrain we hoped that we’d catch a break, but it wasn’t looking good for us.
As we climbed towards the Crossing with hundreds of other people it became much funnier. Many people, us included, had a several day window to do this hike, but given the weather over the previous days and the forecast, today was going to be the best day. Collectively we marched up the mountain like ants towards a broken bag of sugar, hoping to take in some of the spectacular views that made this hike world famous. Here we were, by the hundreds, blindly climbing a mountain in hope of a glimpse of the renowned views, there was nothing to do but laugh.
I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a fair weather hiker. Doesn’t everyone prefer hiking in comfortable temperatures, taking in clear views, and not getting wet? A good hike is made of one-part the route, one-part travel companions and two-parts weather. Having had plenty of days of good hiking, taking in enviable views of the world, my luck was bound to run out, the Tongariro Crossing was where it did. When I realized this I looked up to see the people in front and behind me, sullenly trotting across a volcanic surface that looked more like the moon than earth. Here we were, mostly foreign travelers, who wanted to do this hike so much, that the weather notwithstanding, and we were going to do it.
After making the crossing the Gods shined on us a little. The sky opened up a just enough and we were able to see the trail below and eventually the lakes. If that is what you see on a miserable, rainy, no-good day, this probably is one of the most spectacular one-day hikes in the world. Weather or not, if you are in Taupo, New Zealand, you should attempt the Crossing.
WHEN YOU GO:
- Give yourself a few days in Taupo. Not only is it a gorgeous city to hang out in, but the extra time will allow you to choose the best day for making the Crossing.
- This is a serious hike. We are strong hikers, it took us seven hours to traverse the almost 20km (12 mile) hike. Make sure you bring ample clothing, food and water. Get more information on the hike here.
- Find a car to share a ride. Buses cost $60 per person to get to/from the trail. If you drive a car the driver can drop the car at one end, take the $25 shuttle between the start/finish, and save a group of four $215.