Bethany from Turangi
Today we were robbed! Luckily nothing too important. Just some fresh cherries and Bundaberg lemon, lime and bitters (awesome drink) which we had put in the fridge overnight. Luckily the thief did not make off with our breakfast and lunch food as we would not have had the opportunity to replace it.
We caught a shuttle at 7 this morning to the far end of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing track. We arrived at 8 am. We were disappointed to find out the pick-up time at the Ketetahi carpark was 3:30 pm with no later option. This would give us time to do the main crossing but none of the optional side-trails. In the end that was probably good.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is frequently called the best day walk in New Zealand. It covers 19.4 km over steep volcanic terrain. We started at the higher (about 1100 m) and more popular end, Mangatepopo Valley Road, to minimize the climb. The path steeply climbs to the South Crater between Mounts Tongariro and Ngauruhoe (featured as Mount Doom in LOR Trilogy) and then climbs again to the track’s highest point of 1886 m at Red Crater, a still active and steaming vent. After a skidding downhill to the Emerald Lakes, it is across the Central Crater to another, but briefer, uphill section before descending to the Ketetahi hut and eventually the car park (about 700 m). It is a spectacular walk.
However, caving yesterday was harder on my legs than I anticipated and I started today’s walk with tired legs which lead to a steady but slow uphill on the uneven ground. I was definitely slowing Bryan down. And then with about 8 km to go, my right knee started to bother me on the descent. And it got worse. I was able to climb painfree but steep slopes, and particularly stairs, downwards necessitated a straight right leg approach. Downhill, which should have been quick and easy, turned into a slow and tortuous affair compounded by the time pressure of needing to meet our shuttle. In the end, we did make our bus with 10 minutes to spare. Unknownst to us at the time, there was a group of three Israeli girls who were 30 minutes behind us. Our shuttle driver did patiently wait for them to appear.
This evening we had dinner and then enjoyed relaxing in a private thermal pool at nearby Takaanu. The perfect relaxation after a day of activity and it did satisfy my longing for that elusive bathtub.
Tomorrow: it’s up in the air. Only 3 more full days left in NZ!