The Volcanic Giants…
This is by far the best hiking trip I have ever made 😍!
You need to have at least a moderate fitness otherwise it will turn into an exhausting never ending hike.
However the views are well worth it – absolutely stunning!
Distance: apr. 20 km
Time: 6-8 hours
You can find a lot of helpful information here.
We started our trip early in the morning as we had to drive down from Rotorua. It’s strongly recommended to book at least a one way shuttle bus trip to the beginning of the track. We parked our car at the Ketetahi Car Park for free but be there as early as possible, parking options are limited. Ketetahi is the “end” of the hike. Once we parked our car, the shuttle bus drove us to the starting point called Mangatepopo so that you can hike back to your car at your own pace. If you don’t have a car you can book an additonal transport from Ketetahi back to Taupo ➡ Tongariro Shuttles.
The hike is split into six sections.
Once arrived at Mangatepopo the first section to Soda Springs is easy and fairly flat. You follow the Mangatepopo stream through the valley and can soon notice the change in plant species along the track. By the way; I strongly recommend you to use the toilets at the end of section one as the next ones are a few hours away…🙆♀️
Soon the easy and flat part comes to an end and the track becomes quite steep – welcome to the Devil’s Staircase 😈 climbing from 1400 to 1600 meters above sea level. But don’t worry, it is hard but the views you have on your way up are stunning and breathtaking!
Please note this part of the hike is anything but smooth, good shoes are highly recommended and walk in your own pace (sometimes we meet some joggers (woow!) and let them pass).
Section two brings you up to the South Crater where the track is flat again (enjoy!). Another short climb brings you to the Red Crater – one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever had 😍
Going down from the Red Crater to the Blue Lake was the hardest part from my point of view. The ground is extremely unstable and made of loos rocks moving quickly. Take your time and be careful!
On your way down you will see an old lava flow on your left and the Emerald Lakes on your right.
Even if I felt really unsure on my way down I could manage to take some photos of the lakes. It’s one of the best points to take photos of the entire surroundings, just make sure you have a good spot to stay and don’t move quickly.
We made our lunch break near the lakes (be sure you sit somewhere where you are not exposed to the wind otherwise you will have sulphurous odours included in your meal 😉).
The track leads you to the Blue Lake (cold acidic lake), the lake is sacred and according to the information we received from our guides in the shuttle bus it is disrespectful to touch the water or drink from it.
Now your way is going down, down, down…the ground is more stable and if the weather is good you have great views over Mount Pihanga and Lake Rotoaira.
The weather was good on our trip until a thunderstorm hit us on the way back to Ketetahi. Weather conditions can really change rapidly and we were happy to have our raincoats with us.
Also make sure you have some warm clothes with you as a cold breeze is blowing on top of the craters.
Once we were back on the car park we were really really exhausted and soaked by the rain but super happy and somewhat proud that we made it 🙌
Taking off the shoes was the best feeling on that day 😄 and of course – a huuuge and delicious diner after driving back to Taupo.
I would be happy to hear about your adventures on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing! Let me know about it!