The Tongariro Crossing is New Zealand’s most popular day-hike. It is also considered one of the best day-hikes in the world. Luckily, I was able to hike along this trail after attending a travel writing conference in Wellington, the country’s capital. But let’s backtrack a minute.
New Zealand sits in the Pacific Ocean southeast of Australia. A small country, it’s comprised of two main landmasses – the South Island and the North Island – plus some 600 smaller islands. In 2017, its population was just under 5 million.
New Zealand’s largest cities are Wellington and Aukland (where I bungy-jumped!) on the North Island and Christchurch on the South Island.
Hike-wise, the Te Araroa Trail is New Zealand’s main long-distance hiking trail, stretching some 1,865 miles (3,000 km) across both main islands. During its trip unrolling along the North Island, it piggybacks on the Tongariro Crossing.
The Volatile Tongariro Crossing
So the Tongariro Crossing (officially called the Tongariro Alpine Crossing) is a 12-mile trail (about 20 km) that winds past and across lava flows, steam vents and an active volcanic crater. Experts rate it an advanced hike and warn you to pay close attention to the weather before attempting it. For if you go when the weather’s foul, it can cost you your life. But the reward is seeing some of the most magnificent scenery in the world, including a chain of emerald lakes.
Fortunately for hiking fans, the trail can be hiked from either end and in any season. However, if you favor a winter trip, it’s strongly advised that you sign on with a guided tour. Trust me, that is a wise idea and the only way I’d hike this trail in the winter.
While I could go on and on about the Tongariro Crossing, I won’t. But do take a look at the photos in the slideshow above to see for yourself how stunning the scenery. Then, check out the article I wrote about my experience.
Oh – a colleague of mine explored New Zealand by camper van, so you can see what that’s like, too. You can also read about New Zealand as the birthplace of extreme sports.
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