We were still enjoying the beautiful Lake Taupo area and decided to do one of the Great New Zealand Walks while we were here. These are treks that give you the chance to be among some of the country’s most impressive scenery and usually take several days to complete – while we didn’t have time to do a full one of these walks this trip, we decided to walk most of one of the trails in a one day hike – the Tongariro Crossing.
People had described this hike as, the closest you can get to hiking on Mars, and I didn’t know what to make of that statement until I was there. The landscape is unlike anything I had ever seen before with all of the lava flow – it was just awesome!
The main peak (seen in the 2 pictures above) we hiked past is called Mt Ngauruhoe and it was used as Mt Doom in Lord of the Rings. Interesting story – the Maori Chiefs did not allow Peter Jackson to film the peak/interior of the volcano for the movies because they believe it to be sacred so they had to CG the top part. This part of the trail was nice and warm with the sun beaming down on us and lots of volcanic rocks around us – it was a great start to our full day trek!
The landscapes really did seem to be out of this world – some places were so barren. Ryan couldn’t help but take a picture so it looks like he’s in the middle of nowhere.
Along the trail, there was another Lord of the Rings filming spot (last one, I promise!) – the valley below was where they filmed Mordor. Can you tell by my expression I thought this was pretty cool?!
At the top were some great views into one of the volcano craters – you’ll notice we’ve put our jackets on at this point – as you got closer to the top, it got chillier and much, much windier.
After all the hard work of climbing to get up to the top, we started to head downhill and as soon as we did that, we had a great view of some turquoise colored pools. We ended up having lunch right next to them – a well deserved break after our few hours of hiking.
We had decided to do this trek through a guided tour because you start and end in two different spots and we weren’t sure how to handle those logistics and we wanted to make sure we stayed safe as this was an active volcanic area (there was an eruption a couple of years ago – in fact, our guide, Tom, is the one you hear calming everyone down in the video of the eruption) so we thought it would be good to have an expert close by. Being the science enthusiasts that we were, we loved walking through the volcanic area.
Here is one of the craters left when the rocks went flying out during the eruption – that would have certainly been an exciting day to be hiking the trail!
The last bit of the trail is certainly the easiest and the scenery changes again to be more green and there is a great view of Lake Taupo in the distance. It’s a somewhat relaxing way to end a long but wonderful day hiking.
We had an absolute blast on our trek along the Tongariro Crossing and highly recommend it if you’re in that area in New Zealand – the scenery is unlike anything you will have likely seen and you feel accomplished after you finish! We finished our tour with some celebratory locally brewed beers!