They advertise the Tongariro Alpine Crossing as New Zealand’s most beautiful hikes. Of course I wanted to do it. So we drove into the national park two days ago, in the pouring down rain. Yesterday it cleared up but the shuttle buses wouldn’t run because of strong winds on the summit (100 km/h). WE went on a hike to the Tama Lakes, only 300 meters ascent but 18 km long and quite nice. The weather forecast was good for thursday, allowing 1000 other people, that have had time to wait, to cross on this day.
It was… ridiculous. I have never seen anything like it. Such crowds in the mountains. Lots of girls in short shorts in freezing conditions. One guy even in flip flops. And then those huge amount of people.
I felt like on a crusade. Or a pilgrimage. It was like back in the day, when a whole people had to migrate to a warmer place because of the ice age (like in the movie). As annoying as crowds are, it was so cool to see those lines of people everywhere, all following the same path, looking like tiny ants from the summit. Just wow.
The hike itself was pretty on the top part, the beginning and the end not so much. They had built steps and steady tracks. Not my kind of thing on a hike, I like to climb and have it more natural (how it was on the top). Also not what I’d expect of an alpine hike but I guess they had to make it safer for those walking in flip flops…
We passed by emerald lakes, a cool looking crater, waterfalls, steam vents and lots of awesome volcanic countryside. I am glad I was able to do it, the conditions have been perfect in terms of visibility but that wind was so intense. I was covered in sweat but at the same time freezing all the times (it was 0 degrees on the top) – a really shitty feeling. I do have a wind poof jacket, but apparently it’s not as good as it could be… It could have been a nice trail run too – some people tried – but no chance with all those migrating people around 🙂
Btw, it was freezing at night because we have to share one sleeping bag in freezing conditions and then I also spilled my hot water bottle and everything was damp… Summer in New Zealand.