Conquer the Crossing
New to Taupo and eager to explore everything this town has to offer, I’m on a mission to create ‘the bucket list’ – adventures that are on our doorstep for every local to enjoy, because why should visitors have all the fun?
After speaking to a few locals, there’s no surprise that the first thing on my list is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Not only is it rated New Zealand’s best one-day trek but in 2015 alone, 125,000 visitors completed it – that’s a compelling figure to ignore. It must be good, right?
The Crossing sits in a Dual World Heritage Site, the Tongariro National Park, with a strong cultural history and unique terrain. It’s been described to me in many ways, including “epic”, “stunning”, and “breath-taking (in more ways than one)”. After hearing all this, I was sold, buying the postcard simply won’t cut it, this is something I must see for myself; the active volcanic craters, old lava flows, thermal steam vents, emerald and blue lakes, and native forest.
That’s the why. What about the how, when and where?
What am I in for?
This is a 19.4km one way trek, which means a few things. It’s a big day and an early start. I’ve heard most like to get started around 7:30-8:00am in the morning and on average it can take six to eight hours to do. One way means you’re going to have to engage a local shuttle service; it starts at Mangatepopo Car Park and finishes at Ketetahi Car Park.
When is the best time to do it?
I’ve decided that Autumn could be one of the best times to conquer the Crossing. By avoiding Summer, I’m hoping for a drop in visitor numbers on the track as well as saving myself from potentially 8 hours of punishing sun and heat. As beautiful as snow is, Winter comes with more risks (especially for a novice like me) and I’m not keen on needing any specialist gear like crampons or having to go with a guided option. In Autumn, the weather is fairly settled and a little cooler – just how I need it.
Can I go solo?
There are companies that will guide you, but it’s also perfectly safe and well-marked to do this solo – so long as you’re prepared. I’ve heard doing it in a group can be a lot of fun, with plenty of camaraderie to keep you motivated. On the flip side, the location is so quiet and breath-taking, that if you like to be alone and are excited about getting away from noise, people, work, devices… this is ‘off the grid’ – the ultimate escape from life as you know it.
Some tips I’ve picked up
- It’s OK to do it alone, but let someone know, even if you’re using a shuttle service
- Wear good footwear, flat skate shoes won’t cut it on these trails
- Take plenty of water
- The alpine environment means weather can be changeable, so wear layers
- Don’t forget to charge your camera
- Skip the first toilet, there is a second one with a shorter queue
- Have a cold beer in the fridge for your return, then go soak in a hot pool