In order to take advantage of the weather window and hit the high alpine areas of Tongariro Crossing at the optimum time, I’m hiking the trail backwards. Walking northbound. I plan to walk northbound for 2 days to link up with my turn around point from a couple of days ago, thus connecting the dots of what will hopefully be a hike that completes every single step of the whole trail.
It was less than 20km to hike from National Park village to the town of Whakapapa. The weather was clear but a crisp wind from the south had me starting the hike wearing gloves, puffy down jacket and thermal pants. On the road ahead was the perfect volcanic cone of Mt Ngarahoe which last erupted in 1985. To my right was Mt Ruapehu, the largest volcano in New Zealand, which last erupted in 2007.
10am photo below
On my last visit to New Zealand in 1997 Mt Ruapehu was still having minor eruptions, nothing like the major one that happened a year earlier in 1996. This is a very volcanic part of the world. Hopefully things stay quiet, at least for the next couple of days.
The hiking trail started easy and became increasingly overgrown and muddy the further I hiked. Two knee deep rivers had to be forded so no use trying to stay out of the mud. I hiked most of the trail with an English couple I first met at Kerikeri, some 4-5 weeks ago. Like many TA hikers they are taking a detour off the main trail to hike the circuit around Ruapehu volcano. In all likelihood we’ll meet again before the end of the trail.
Whakapapa is a small ski village with few facilities other than hotels, hostels and expensive restaurants. As a TA hiker I took advantage of the generous discount they offer us and stay in a dorm room at the holiday park. As luck would have it I had the whole room to myself. Such a treat had me falling asleep at around 8pm. Thru hiking can be tiring work sometimes. Tomorrow I’ll hike the famed Tongariro Crossing, the weather forecast is looking great.