The day after falling from the sky (which is much better than having the sky fall on your head) I went to walk the Tongariro Alpine Crossing (to give it it’s full and proper name). This is a seven hour hike up and across the volcanic peaks just south of lake Taupo. I was prepared for this mission, I had a proper English lunch box with enough food for at least the entire day if not possibly some of the following day too. I intended to take a picture to share with you this great traditional symbol – but I forgot.
I also had the following: An extra jumper, a long sleave t-shirt, a tripod, poncho, first aid kit, biscuits, chocolate and a silver emergency heat blanket. I was taking the warnings that weather can change quickly quite seriously.
I had to get up at some ludicrous hour in the morning to catch a bus at 6:30 to get to the start of the walk. I was rather dismayed to find that even super early in the morning the sun was already in the sky. However when we arrived at the start point for the track the weather was not looking good.
Morning Start

Fortunately after an hour or so of walking the sun had burned away the mist and it was the beginnings of a glorious day. One of the things that I’ve never quite gotten used to when walking up steep mountain tracks is how quickly you seem to gain height! The walking is hard but in just an hour you can turn and look back at the ant sized people back where you were. It is an very satisfying experience.
Looking back
The Tongariro Crossing is the most popular one-day walk in New Zealand, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it were the most popular in the world. This is a mixed blessing when you don’t want people in your pictures – well you have no choice there’s no way that you could wait for people to go by, it’s a continuous stream. It does present however an ideal opportunity to get some practice in at creating panoramas.
Crater Pano
(Obviously the effect is slightly lost in little mode)
When you get to the top of the first section there is an optional extra, so to speak, you can climb to the top of Mt Ngauruhoe (don’t ask me how to pronounce that, I get as far as ‘nnnn’) and come back down again before continuing with the rest of the walk. I decided to take this option. However after about half an hour of climbing it became obvious that it was not such a good idea. The surface was very loose and my trainers were not quite up to the job. I stopped and considered the situation and decided to turn back, I can be sensible like that. I did however take the option to climb the Tongariro peak with a bit more determination. Here are some photos from that side-trek.
Volcanic cone
View from Tongariro
Walking on clouds
View from Tongariro 2
The Black cone you can see is Mt Ngauruhoe and I think you can see from the photos how steep the climb would have gotten.
There are some parts of the walk where the landscape looks so barren and alien that it’s easy to imagine that you’re not even on earth anymore. As long as you ignore all the other people looking out over the same view.
Alien Landscape
The alien crater
There were some pretty good views through the middle section of the walk:
Lakes
Looking back
In this picture I’m looking back at a particularly difficult decent (at least for me in my trainers) it was very loose and I wasn’t helped by the fact that I had my camera in one hand. It was a very slow section of the walk for me. Fortunately there were other people that were having just as much difficulty as me so I didn’t feel too bad.
The end of the walk was a bit boring, but I had the good fortune finish my walk with Olivia from Austria. Which was definitely a good thing because the end of the walk seems to be a near eternity going through a largely featureless forest with no views. The entire walk took me about eight hours. As I said eariler the weather is reputed to be able to change rapidly:
Weather can change quickly
Fortuantely for me this is actually the closest I got during the walk to any cloud cover 🙂