The Tongariro Crossing runs between Mt. Ngauruhoe and Mt. Tongariro, There are threee mountains basically in a row, Mt. Ruapheu is the first, then Ngauruhoe finally Tongariro. Ruapheu is the mountain with all the facilities for skiing etc.
The crossing can be done from either end , but it appears that leaving from Mangatepopo is the way prob. 90% plus go.
Most guide books say allow 6-7 hrs plus another 2 for siteseeing and lunch.
We were 5 oldies although all fit except for me, and we did it in total time of 6hrs.
Be prepared conditions can change rapidly , particuallary at the highest point near the Red Crater(1886M)
This hike has become very popular with on a good day as many as 700 on the track.
THIS IS NO WALK IN THE PARK, it is a hard climb in parts, you start off with a gentle gradient up the Mangatepopo Valley, then a steep climb to the sadle which runs between the active Volcanoes of Tongariro & Ngauruhoe ( this part I found hard searching for the best footholds, why does every one elses tracks always look easier).
There is one more uphill , and a downward on loose scoria that you need to take care with as you come down to the Emerald Lakes, then a long downward back to the carpark. Some beautiful sights but cloud cover can come in very quickly as my photo of the Red Crater willshow (in fact a photo only showing cloud).
Challenging the Tongariro Crossing after a dump of snow is a great way to experience hiking in extreme conditions.
I went with a guided group. We were supplied with crampons after we had negotiated the 'Devil's Staircase'. This was the most difficult time for the less fit of us. The guides led and 'made' a path around the side of the Mt. At some stages, one small mistake on foot placement could have sent us falling hundreds of feet! So the challenge was certainly present!
After surviving this, one guide said 'Right, now you sit on your arse and slide down the mountain' and as you would expect, the whole group though 'Yeah right'. But 5 minutes later, we were led to a point and told to sit on our arses and slide down!
This was somewhat startling, but good fun.
The guides are great, and are always interacting with every member of the group. They seem really enthusiastic which is a surprise considering they walk the trail 3/4 times a week!
All in all, i'd recommend a winter hike!
I can't quite recall the name of the company (I walked the trail two years ago), but you can book with them from the YHA in Taupo.
They are cheap, they supply 'some' winter gear such as boots and gloves and waterproofs.
Well worth it!
Give it a go!
Make sure you have information and maps from the Department of Conservation before you go.
Whilst the track is well travelled, it pays to know what you are up against and don't forget to get fit before you go...
These Thermal Pools are only a few ks from Turangi, you need to turn off the Main State Highway, what is referred to around the back of the lake (Taupo)
A refreshing end to walking The Tongariro Crossing, and next door to a small free walkway of boiling mud etc.
On the bridge the water is crystal clear and we spent time watching the trout darting around.
Moving from the Red Crater you decend to The Emerald Lakes, ( these are water filled explosion craters)
It is quite a way down you will notice people windind down the bottom of the scoria path.
Also especially at the top the dark stones are actually loose scoria.
This moves with you and the only way down is to put your footing sideways. When we came down a lady had frozen and four friends assisted her, I think it was safe but treat it with respect.
At the top of the second climb is the Red Crater (highest point), unfotunately for me a lot of cloud, it was clear when I looked but cloud cover comes in literally seconds, would be magnificent on a nice day.
At the top of the first climb, everyone takes a breather, something to eat and drink, for us we shelted from the wind behind a large boulder and put warmer clothes on for the next part of our hike.
The weather can be very changeable.
Still away to go , if you look at my buddy in front you will see the right hand foot going to the next rock, to push off to go higher. It was at this stage I felt my calf muscles tighten up, glad to say once at the top no more problems.
Now we are into the hard part ( well for me any way)
Every time I took a step up, the path on the other side looked easier. Enlarge this photo to see the many hikers heading to-wards the summit, this looks flat and easy but like photographing huge seas the photo does it no justice.
It pays to stop every few moments to get your breathing right, as you are climbing higher the air is thiner making it harder to breathe when pushing the body.
This is from the start leaving from Mangateopo Road end, a false start really showing a nice easy walkway, but look at the "little rise" coming up .
As we got closer, I realised this was not going to be a walk in the park( well it was , but you know what I mean)
This is the sign telling you about the small walk around the thermal area.
Enlarge sign for a clearer picture.
Beside the Tokaanu Thermal Pools is a small walkway and thermal activity, its not flash, but its FREE.
At the end of the hike it was like an overcrowded bus station, bodies everywhere unwinding and enjoying themselves, us old fellas simply hoped in the car and drove off.
At the back of the Ketetahi Hut, with no room for a snack this is one of the tent sites it is a flat cleared areas with four boards with staples to tie your tent down with.
The Ketatahi Hut, a popular stop over before starting the long down ward walk, the Blue Lake can be seen clearly from here.