Tongariro Crossing – One of the most beautiful hikes of New Zealand they say. I’ve done it, but I have no clue… I’ll tell you why… but first a typical Angeliqa-story..
The night before the hike we arrived to our camp spot. We were guided to the grass part where we were to set up our tent. It was pitch dark outside but we noticed we were surrounded by a fence and not too far from the facilities. However, it was pitch black outside. Not the type of dark nights you experience in a city-forest but desert-nz-can’t-see-anything-but-stars-dark.
We set up our tent without a problem, made our dinner and went to sleep.
In the middle of the night the whole ground started shaking.
Waking up there was a very loud noise approaching us. As it got closer I literally thought we were being hit by a meteor or were in the middle of a massive earthquake.
It was not a pleasant… surprise, waking up in the middle of the night thinking we were experiencing the end of the world.
Luckily it turned out we had just set up our tent right next to a train track. When we figured out what it was shaking us, we were too tired to move our tent so we chose to stay put the rest of the night. However… when you’re asleep in a new place it’s not always easy to make the connection, so I had this turbulent experience more than once during the night before I remembered where we were.
Even if my sleep hadn’t been topnotch, the next day started out beautifully. The sun was shining and there were almost no clouds in the sky. We were up superearly to get a good start. The track is done in between 6 to 8 hours on average, we counted on our hike to take about 8 h. Not because we’re slow, but because I usually stop every other second to take photos :D. This day started as no exception.
The hike starts with some pretty easy flat tracks but quickly changes to a much more challenging one. A sign with a text telling us to stop if the weather is not ok, we’re not fit enough or equipped enough, warned us to continue as we entered the first steps of our first real challenge.
These steps are no joke. You know that those type of stairs that are a little too wide to take a regular step. Thats what we had to suffer through pretty much the whole way up.
When we were finished climbing “the Devils staircase”, suitably named, we were met by fog… Well, actually, it was more like we walked straight into the clouds.
Thinking we would keep climbing higher and end up above the clouds, I got excited and went on a little victory run. I love fog. Clouds too sometimes… however, being inside one is a bit more wet.
Little did I know that these clouds were the reason we would make it through the track in 6 hours… Meaning I stopped about… 3… times to take photos.
We thought the clouds might clear up so we would be able to see the scenery we knew we were surrounded by, but after a couple of hours of walking we realised we were out of luck.
Imaging hiking through Grand Canyon, you know its gorgeous, you’ve seen all the pictures, and now you’re there… you’ve committed to a 6-8 hours hike, and you see… nothing.
At some points the clouds were so thick we could not se much more than an arms length infront of us… which is a pretty scary experience considering you’re sometimes on very narrow paths, the steep mountains on either side. No fence or other safety things to guide you.
I must say though, after pushing ourselves through this hike, with nothing else than our minds to entertain us… I think we learnt a lot.
Even though I would love to go back to do the hike all over again, to actually see something this time, I don’t think I’d change it if I had the chance to.
Which experience would you never exchange despite the fact it didn’t turn out as expected?