NZ Great Walks – Tongariro Alpine Crossing
For a site to be recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is fairly uncommon. For a site to be recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site with mixed status – meaning an area of both cultural and natural significance – is extremely rare. The list of 32 properties includes some of the world’d most spectacular areas such as Cappadocia in Turkey, Machu Picchu in Peru, or Wadi Rum in Jordan. And since 1993, the Tongariro National Park is one of them. If that’s not reason enough to add the Tongariro Alpine Crossing to your bucket list, continue reading. If you’re sold already, go find your hiking boots and off you go!
Dotted in-between numerous active and extinct volcanoes, you’re in for one of the most picture-perfect journeys you’ve ever been on. Start early, pack for all weather conditions, and be careful not to quit too soon. Once you’ve reached the first peak and your heart rate is back to normal, take it all in. Yes, you’re standing on sacred grounds in midsts of Middle Earth legendarium. Depending on how adventurous you (and the weather!) feel on the day, either follow Frodo’s footsteps up Mt Ngauruhoe (2287 m), better known as Mt Doom, or carry on to Mt Tongariro summit (1967 m). Lunch is served with a gorgeous side of panoramic views across three water-filled explosion craters, also known as the Emerald Lakes. Fuel up! A long descent through harsh craters and golden tussock-covered slopes awaits and before you know it, you want to do it all again.
Described as a cultural landscape, the impressive peaks at the heart of this park have cultural and religious significance for the Maori people, symbolising spiritual links between the community and its environment. As always, leave only footsteps and treat your surrounding with the respect it deserves.
Happy hiking! x
Photos are in chronological order starting at Mangatepopo Valley (around 7am) and finishing at Ketahi (around 2-3pm). For more practical information, head to the trustworthy Doc (Department of Conservation) page.
If you want to read about my other Great Walk experiences, click here.