|Starting off from The Mangatepopo Car Park end.|
|Mt Ngauruhoe, just as the cloud is lifting|
|Mt Tongariro's red crater|
|Descending on the scree track|
|One of Tongariro's other craters|
|The descent with Lake Rotoaira in the distance|
|That's me - slowly making my way down, with Mr J in front|
While on holiday, The Scout, Miss B, Mr J and I did the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This is one of New Zealand's great day hikes - almost 20km (12.4 miles) of stunning scenery, sheer hell on the legs as you climb the aptly named devil's staircase, and an amazing sense of relief and achievement as you finish it.
Even though it is the middle of summer here at present, it was extremely cold and windy up in the mountains, we all had fleeces, goretex jackets and beanies on for most of the hike. It was amazing seeing how under prepared some hikers were though.
This is still an active volcanic area, and there are signs warning of the dangers, and pockets of steam coming from the earth at various points. We got fabulous views of Mt Ngauruhoe, Ruapehu and the huge craters of Tongariro as we climbed - the highest point was at the top of the red crater - 1886m. I loved the view of the emerald lakes .
Descending the mountain was just as hard, from the top of the red ridge there is a scree track, that saw most of us slipping and sliding for about 20 minutes until we reached firm ground. Lunch at that point was a very welcome respite. The final 6 km of the track is all down hill too, with the last couple of kilometres, being a beautiful native forest track. Needless to say, we had rather stiff sore legs the next day.
I loved all the different alpine flowers and plants I could see growing in all the differing terrains we hiked. I will have to get a book from the library to try and identify them.
I feel really proud of myself for having accomplished this, and love that we were able to do this as a family. Miss B and Mr J were the youngest people we saw hiking the day we did it, so as long as you are well prepared with good fitness levels, food, water and clothes for all weather conditions, anyone can do it.