We stayed in Auckland to our latvian friends for couple of days. They are like our anchors, and it is a great feeling to go to Auckland and know that we will meet them again. They took us to a black sand beach Piha. We had a lovely time there.
After couple of days in Auckland (while Aldis went to two concerts, one here one in Christchurch) , we had to start moving again. Our target was Opotiki, were we had arranged a job. We decided to do some fun stuff on the way. So first up was Hobitton, but as our car decided to play some jokes with us, we didn't made it that day. Next day we had bought the bus ticket for Tongariro Crossing. Tongariro was the first national park in New Zealand and the fourth in the world. It was the first in the world to be gifted by a country's indigenous people. There are three active volcanoes in Tongariro National Park including Ruapehu, Tongariro, and Ngauruhoe. The summits of these volcanoes are considered sacred.
We stayed at a very nice campground and were ready to wake up at 4:30 am just to drive to Tongariro, where at 7 am we had a bus arranged to pick us up.
We bought a bus ticket on bookme (it is a very good site for discounted entertainment tickets). Although the trail is for free, parking is allowed for 4 hours, but it is at least 7-hour hike. Also, it is a one-way trail, so still you need someone to drive you one way from the finish to the starting point where you left your car.
The only thing I knew about it that it is one day hike in the mountains and it is one of the main backgrounds for "Lord of the Ring" movie.
The day started with a lot of clouds and fog. But there still were quite many hikers.
I was a little sad that the Mt Doom was hiding in the clouds. Still made some pictures with my precious engagement ring.
The trail starts pretty easy, but after a short time, there are the first challenges.
The hardest part for me was the long climb up the Red Crater. It is the trails highest point. But this walk is exactly what's needed, just to focus on physical activities and clean your mind a little. And after conquering new heights, the feeling is really good.
When we got to the top the weather was completely different.The wind was stronger and colder and air very wet. Visibility was very bad because we actually were in the cloud.
After being on the top and walking among the clouds, you always have to remember how to get back on the ground. The walk down was steep and hard because of the loose rocks and sliding soil. But the view was worth it. Emerald lakes looked like out of this world.
The Emerald Lakes fill explosion craters near the summit of Mt Tongariro. Their brilliant colours are partly caused by dissolved minerals, washed down from the thermal area of nearby Red Crater.
The steam vents above the lake are responsible for the sulphurous smell. Although it was still pretty cold, we had a picnic lunch there. We just wanted to spend more time there just to enjoy the magic of this place.
The rest of the walk was relatively easy and still beautiful. We saw the Blue Lake and smoke and steam coming from other craters on our way.
Volcanic land turned into large fields covered with heather. I was amazed how far we could see. Lake Rotoaira looked really interesting.
After very windy trail across the fields, we ended up in a forest and then we knew we are close to the finish.
It is interesting that the trail begins at 1120m above sea level. The highest point is The Red crater 1886m.
The last eruption happened in 2012. You can see the pictures HERE.
I can say that this wasn't a hard trail for me, but it was worth of every landscape! Also, it is hard to escape the crowds of the other hikers. From one hand you feel a lot safer, from the other - I didn't feel that loneliness and wilderness that I wanted. I am grateful that my feet could touch this sacred and beautiful land. But I know for sure I would love to hike something harder and wilder. And I will!