When I was first told about the Tongariro Crossing near Taupo, I thought everyone was exaggerating. What people told me was that the hike would take about 10 hours, that you will feel like dying, but that they would have walked for 20 hours for that view.
Well, truth be told – no one was exaggerating.
But what even is the Tongariro Crossing? It is basically an extremely long and exhausting hike up several mountains, and part of it is a volcano which some might know as “Mt. Doom” – the one from Lord of the Rings.
If you decide that you want to do the hike, there are several options. Because the beginning of the trail is about an hour from Taupo, you can either rent a car or hitchhike, or you can book a shuttle. The shuttles can be booked in almost every hostel, but always try to book 1-2 days in advance.
If you book a shuttle, they will pick you up at around 5am at your hostel, so that by 6am you’re at the foot of the mountain. Make sure to bring plenty of water and sun screen, but remember that there are only three toilets spread across the entire path.
In the mornings it can be really chilly, but by 10am the sun will burn you if you don’t have any protection.
The Tongariro Crossing is a very challenging but beautiful hike. The entire trail takes most people between 6 and 10 hours, depending on the weather conditions and one’s personal fitness level.
Even though it definitely is challenging, the hike can be done with children.
Things to be aware of:
1. The volcano is sacred. Whilst you can explore everything around the volcano, the volcano itself is on sacred land, so please refrain from climbing it.
2. Some parts of the crossing, especially towards the middle, can be dangerous. Once you’ve reached the very top and you can see the lakes, you have to “walk” down a very steep and long path that is just made out of gravel. I have seen quite a few people fall and hurt themselves quite badly, so make sure to take your time.
3. Once you’ve gone past the lakes, you’d think that the end of the trail is near – truth is, it takes about another 2-3 hours to reach the very end.
It is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen (plus it feels like a different planet).