Day 311 on the Road
Hiking the Tongariro Crossing with a Guide
Today we are going a guided hike of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing! If you like this video and want to see more 365 Days: 365 Activities in New Zealand then head over to our epic YouTube Channel & Subscribe!
Today we are tackling a world class hike. We are going on a volcanic alpine adventure across the Tongariro Crossing.
Today is probably the most premium activity we’re gonna be doing right here in New Zealand Everybody is talking about it. Everybody has it on its to-do list when travelling the North Island it’s the amazing Tongariro Crossing and watch out we’re gonna tell you everything about this crossing in length.
Yes, not only are we doing New Zealand’s most popular day hike but we’re also doing it as a guided walk so we’ve got extra tips to share with you guys.
So today our guided walk is with Adrift Tongariro and our guide is Bianca, she’s a super experienced outdoorsy girl she’s actually going guided walks around the area for a few years now and on top of that in winter she’s doing ski patrol in the nearby ski resort so needless to say that she knows everything about this volcanic and awesome landscape.
For this massive one way walk we decided to start at the Mangatepopo car park because basically doing it that way helps us have a little bit less climbing to do despite the fact that we’re gonna be doing a lot of climbing today.
Because yes, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is not the shortest walk we’ve done so far, in fact it’s not your average walk. It is 19.4km long that’s a lot of miles if you are from the US and you have a weird as system, and it usually takes about 8 hours walk to complete so needless to say it’s a full day walk.
When planning your trip on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, remember that if you are doing it in the high season you will need to take a shuttle the prices range between $30 to $60 per person and that’s because The Department of Conservation is trying to limit the amount of people going on the walk. You can choose to go with a guide like we’re doing today or you can decide to do it on your own but no matter what option you decide, you will need to prepare yourself the weather can change really often in New Zealand and you need a rain coat.
So the girls went to use the last toilet for about 4 hours it’s a climb all the way to the top. No Bathroom breaks. And ahead of us very very soon is the dreaded Devil’s Staircase, which you know you just guess what it is right? It is going to be tough.
Yes, now it’s time for us to tackle the dreaded Devil’s Staircase, which pretty much a set of stairs which seems to go on forever but it’s going across a really cool landscape which is an ancient lava flow coming from Mt Ngauruhoe which is that coned volcano which you see right at the top.
The climb is tough but the view is beautiful look at that, guys. Look behind me.
the further up the stairs we’re going the more we are working up a sweat but that’s why it’s so important to pack loads of different layers for the alpine crossing because even if you are doing a lot of exercise and you want to strip down for a little bit, the higher you’re going the colder the temperature is getting so it’s important to have extra layers and especially have a windproof jacket because it can get seriously windy up here and definitely have a rainproof jacket cos the weather is every changing and we definitely see that with the way the clouds are just flying by the whole time.
We’re going there.
Although we have another steep climb ahead of us, luckily we have some time to rest before that as we cross along the Mangatepopo Saddle which is a nice flat part between Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe .
That big cloud behind me is coming right where we’re going. I ain’t happy with that.
If we thought the Devil’s Staircase was a tough climb then we are in for quite the surprise with this next section of steep climb up towards the Red Crater. But the higher we go the more amazing the views get. So we have plenty of opportunity to stop along the way, take in those amazing views of volcanic valleys and the stacks of volcanic features that have formed all sorts of shapes. We even find some wildlife actually living up here although we have no idea what that was, and our guide is telling us more about this amazing area which is just awesome.
However the climb is getting steeper and steeper and there are even some chains on the side of the rocks to help you up.
There’s like a man’s face in the rock.
No there is not.
Yes, there is. He’s got big lips.
Admittedly we took quite a lot of breaks on the way to the Red Crater the climb is actually really steep in fact, as Laura mentioned before we actually do find that climb much harder than the Devil’s Staircase but to be quite honest, there is a lot of good reasons to take some breaks, the views are phenomenal we can see as far as the eye can see on both sides which is actually quite amazing. But at the end of this amazing steep climb we are actually treated to some stunning views. We are actually reaching the highest point of the tongariro alpine crossing which is at 1,886m again if you’re from the US I have no idea how high it is in foot and the views from the top is absolutely amazing we can see both sides, we can see the Mangatepopo Saddle where we were hiking just a few minutes ago and we can see all those red volcano side hills and all those fumeroles steaming away.
But probably one of the most photographed places on the Tongariro Crossing and one of the most Instagrammable places in New Zealand are the Emerald Lake. You’ve got an amazing view above those jewel like lake nestled in the middle of this volcanic landscape it’s absolutely amazing this view is unlike anything earthly.
But the way down is another scree run! We love scree running, it’s basically going downhill on those really loose pebbles and we have practiced that in Rotorua. Card above.
Pretty nice view down there.
It takes us a while to get down to the Emerald Lake from the Red Crater half because the views are so amazing we want to take photos every single step of the way, but also because actually getting down this scree slope is really really hard. It’s easy to fall and slip on your SASS so you do have to be careful.
Because the Emerald Lake is so amazing we decide to stay here for a while longer to have our lunch but instead of sitting around, if you guys want to there’s actually a some side tracks to the Tongariro Crossing that you can do. For instance, you can actually climb to the summit of Mt Ngauruhoe which again is that cone-shaped volcano otherwise known as Mt Doom in the Lord of the Rings, that will add another 3 hours to your trip. There’s also a side track to the summit of Mt Tongariro again that will take another 2 hours onto your trip. But for us, we decide we want to just sit relax by the Emerald Lake and then continue with our hike.
As we move on from the Emerald Lakes we see more vibrant coloured lakes aptly named the Blue Lake and then we sort of find a different environment with lots of alpine vegetation and luckily our guide actually knows quite a lot things about all this amazing vegetation around us.
And this is cotton head mountain daisies, these are hideous, but then there’s normal mountain daisies as well which are quite pretty, but they all come out of see how there’s cottonheads.
As we leave the views of Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe behind us, up ahead we actually see the crater of a different volcano which is Lake Taupo because yes, we learned while we were in Taupo that the lake is inside the crater of the world’s second largest volcano. That is absolutely crazy.
But Mt Tongariro is a lot more active, and we see boulders of its latest eruption all around us.
Laura, laura always trailing behind.
As we’re making our way toward Ketetahi Shelter we are getting constant reminders about how active the earth is beneath us in fact, in 2014 there was a small eruption on Mt Tongariro and boulder actually went through the Ketetahi Shelter, luckily no one was using the shelter at the time but Bianca has loads of really fun stories about that eruption so that’s really fascinating to hear.
Other that all the out of place boulders that we see around the track which have been blasted out from Mt Tongariro there’s also loads and loads of steaming vents that we can see in the distance that that is constant reminder of active the earth is beneath us.
We also see a lot of really unusual coloured streams during the last leg of our walk down to the end of the Tongariro Crossing.
Alright so when you see the bush getting slightly bit thicker that’s when you know the end is near, you only have roughly an hour left until you make it down to the car park. Depending on how many pictures you’re taking for us, probably two.
If you guys want to do the Tongariro Crossing by yourself the best time of the year to do that is during the hot season meaning that there is no snow on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and that’s usually in summer in New Zealand but if you decide to attempt it in winter we strongly recommend to do it with a guide it’s absolutely stunning but you need the absolute right equipment because it becomes pretty dangerous once covered with snow.
So if you guys are planning to attempt the Tongariro Crossing in winter, that’s June, July and August, in New Zealand, you will need to do that with a guide. Adrift does it or if you do it on your own you need to bring your own really good equipment but we only recommend that for people which have experience you need your crampons, your need your GPS beacon, you need all your gear for an alpine adventure.
But let’s get back to what we’re doing right now we are now in the thick New Zealand bush, it’s absolutely amazing how the landscape has changed so tremendously so quickly, as soon as we went off the volcano we are now in the middle of one of those classic North Island New Zealand forest and to be fair, we love it. It provides us really welcome shelter after spending so long under the scorching New Zealand sun plus it has a lot of waterfalls because what walk in New Zealand doesn’t have some?
This waterfall is much bigger than the Soda Springs which is the waterfall that we saw at the beginning of this hike if you guys recall about 10 minutes ago in this video, it is a really cool spot to take some pictures and it also marks the fact that we are almost done.
Oh we’re there already. Pretty short walk. I can’t see the 19.4 signs right here.
Nice. We survived.
this hike is probably one of the best hikes we’ve done in New Zealand but it becomes even better when we’ve been given some beers.
It’s with our mind full of those amazing scenery that w’eve seen today on one of the most beautiful hikes we’ve ever done in this country that we are making our way back to the Skotel. Which is gonna be our last night in New Zealand’s actually highest hotel.
What I like the most about my day was the beer.
So you know you’ve done a good job, eh? When you get down and the best part of your day was the beer.