2 November 2017

NZ Travel Diary: Lake Taupo & The Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Taupo, New Zealand. Only an hour away from Rotorua, Taupo is a town for adventurers. Whether you plan on going skydiving, hiking, sailing, zorbing, relaxing in hot springs and much much more. Luckily the two activities that I wanted to cross off my list were included in our Kiwi Experience Bus Tour: the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a 20km hike up a volcano & a sail across Lake Taupo to see the Maori Rock Carvings. The Crossing cost us $65 each which was for the transport: the hike itself is free. As for the Maori Carvings, we boarded the Barnaby boat which cost us around $45 each. Taking in to account the exchange rate, these were pretty good deals & we couldn't be happier.

  • The Maori Rock Carvings on Lake Taupo

There are several boats that you can take to see the carvings, our bus pass & hostel were tied to the Barnaby which is why we took it. The boat trip lasts around two and a half hours. The captain allowed us to play our own music and for those who drink to bring their own alcohol. Free pizza was also provided which is always a plus! A boat trip is always enjoyable, especially in the late sunny afternoon where you can watch the sunset from the deck. The Maori Carvings themselves were beautiful, there is one large one and several smaller ones to the left of it. These smaller ones can be a little difficult to decipher, but luckily the owner of the boat described them and spoke about their  significance. The rock carvings date back to 1980 & are a very popular tourist destination in Taupo. In the summer months, you can go for a swim there too!

  •  The Tongariro Alpine Crossing

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is located in the Tongariro National Park, an hour & a half drive away from the Taupo town centre. The hike is among the most famous day-hikes in the world, just hitting 20km in 6-8 hours. We were told people of all fitness levels could do this, which I strongly disagree with - it's classed as a 'moderate' trail, and in poor weather it is very dangerous. The day we hiked it, it rained the entire time so we sadly didn't see anything, not even Mount Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom from Lord of The Rings). The weather conditions worsened throughout the morning, so we had already passed the final 'return point' and had no choice but to battle through. Most people from our bus group had turned around already. In all honesty, I have never been so scared for my own safety. At the very top, the wind was so strong it could knock you off balance. The 4 of us had to lock arms in a single line, and squat our way in the wind across the narrow path. It was the scariest & most dangerous thing I have ever done, I had to crawl on my hands and knees at one point to avoid being swept off the side into the crater. 

This may sound overdramatic but I assure you, I truly thought it was the end that day! When I reached the top, the only thought I had was Summer you *censored* idiot! Somehow, through the wind, snow, dirt & rain - we made it. Now, if you do a simple google search you'll see how stunning it truly is. It is absolutely beautiful, breath-taking in clear conditions. Sadly we didn't really see anything. The Volcano was closed the following two days because of that weather, and I think it should have been cancelled that day too. So, only do it after you've done some research, and only do it if you have clear blue skies and as little wind as possible. Otherwise, I would advise against it! It's been 24 hours since I did it, and I'm so sad we didn't have beautiful weather because it simply was not worth the fear & danger in the poor weather conditions we faced. I can barely walk today & I'm not sure when my knees will feel normal again! I may sound bitter, after all I hiked a Volcano, but it was the worst fear I have ever felt. Do it if the weather is beautiful. Good luck!

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