Thursday, January 14, 2010

A perfect day for the crossing

The Tongariro Crossing, that is. The same could not be said for our crossing of the Cook Strait between the islands (see earlier post!)

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is billed as the best one-day hike in New Zealand - and with good reason. It is "only" 12 miles in length but there is a total climb of 900 metres and a descent of 1150. Within that there is such a variety of scenery: lowland scrub, alpine vegetation, volcanic scorched landscape, steam vents, blue lakes and vistas over great sweeps of North Island, away to Mount Taranaki (NZ's Mount Fiji) to the west and over Lake Taupo to the north-east. And just when you think all that's left is a long trudge downhill to the pick-up, there's a long stretch of native forest and a stream and waterfall to boot. It is listed as 5 1/2 to 8 hours and has various health and safety warnings so I was slightly apprehensive (wouldn't I be?) and set to it with determination. At the steepest parts, I had to rest after every 100 steps - but not for long. The highest point of all, on the top of the Red Crater, was steaming and the ground was hot - just to remind us that there's is still an active volcano under and around us.
And yes, the weather was perfect, perhaps a little breezy - and so often it is far from it. Today was the first hot day since the day after New Year's and we have been basking in it. J had her choice of day too and went white-water rafting - a perfect day for her too. And, sore legs (mine) and sore arms (hers) apart, we are in fine evening form.


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