January 30, 2012
The Tongariro Crossing is the “best one day walk in all of New Zealand”.
That is a big deal in a country that has over 2 dozen famous walks (or “tramps” as they call them).
It is long at 12 miles.
It is not easy, with several serious ascents and a long descent. [Note, the locals told us it was ‘pretty flat’. I seriously wonder what they would call strenuous. It was not quite as tough as the hardest day in Nepal, but it was about as “pretty flat” as I am “ridiculously tall”.]
It has stunning beauty and passes through at least 4 different ecosystems.
It was 40 degrees and windy at times and hot and still at others. The clouds participated in a dance with the mountains and volcanoes throughout the day, leaving us almost blind one moment and fully aware at others.
We saw beautiful mountains
and stunning lakes.
We have had other strenuous endeavors (the Great Wall and Nepal), but this hike had one notable difference: the pace of our fellow trampers. In China and Nepal, we passed people and were never passed ourselves. In the world of fit Kiwis, we found a few folks that outpaced us.
We hike and gawked and admired for 7 lovely hours. We arrived 30 minutes early for our bus. Our instruction sheet had one message emphasized in bold print - “ DO NOT FALL ASLEEP IN THE GRASS”. Throughout this trip, we have noticed signs that have implied messages behind them. For example, I can picture several scenarios that led to this sign:
Once we sat down in the warm sun after the long hike, we understood exactly the nature of the warning. We made sure at least one of us stayed walking while we awaited the bus.
Oh yeah, and we are pretty darn sore right now.