No! Not the Tongariro Crossing. There are much better options.
TRM’s following short videos have just been sent to another fishy inmate, CM from Hamilton. He was planning to take his 13 year old over the Tongariro Crossing. The date he had in mind was 29th December or thereabouts during the busiest tourist season. We did all we could to talk him out of it. Why?
Wait for a more opportune time. Generally, NZ’ers can do it any old time. Please stay away at peak holiday times. The delays were like Auckland commuting traffic – perhaps even worse as the road is unsealed pumice, but DOC have made more of an effort since then to manage and control the traffic.
Wait until the temperatures at the higher altitude are milder and not so stifling hot and exhausting and sweaty and wearying.
Wait until the overseas tourists “silly season” is over and you can park closer – i.e. over 1 km – to the finish at Ketetahi. Every day during the summer season cars are parked on both sides of SH46 for over a km on either side of the Ketetahi exit.
Wait until the crowds of tourists have gone and you will enjoy it far more as it will take less time spent wasted in tiring traffic delays.
Wait until the queue for the half-way loo is down to less than one hour!
Wait until you can throw a sickie and do it during uncrowded week-days.
While you are waiting please seriously consider the following better alternative option – highly recommended by SWMBO – She hates receiving complaints from tourists recovering from the crossing, who are never warned about the delays from crowding.:
The following Wilderness Magazine feature article on New Zealand’s finest walk (?) was dated 2006 – 13 years ago!. In the magazine photo below you might be surprised at the long queue of trampers, but the numbers have increased substantially since then – now approx 140-150,000 each year of all shapes, ages and nationalities mainly concentrated on fine weather days during the silly summer holiday season. How much more evidence do you need?
(We need to update the first video below as that was taken about five years ago before the “sky wakas” or gondolas were installed at Whakapapa. These might cost more but are well worth the experience. They provide a speedy comfortable ride up to the highest restaurant in the southern hemisphere.)
Some of the obsolete Whakapapa chair-lift seats have discovered a new life – promoted as tourists garden seating at TRM. SWMBO believes in nostalgic recycling… They are popular for inmates’ meditation and spiritual recovery at the end of a busy day in the Kaimanawa and Tongariro National Park.
Images of the new sky wakas operating at the top of the rock garden were taken towards the end of the skiing season on 8 October… Below are the original chairlifts – now replaced. If you wondered what happened to them…
Look closely at the photo below on right, you might identify the swing-arm that was designed to keep the skiers in the chairlift has been re-engineered to now provide the support base. Very clever innovation… TRM tourist inmates appear convinced the seats are much more relaxing and cozy if they are holding a large cold frosty glass. When they close their eyes after a few drinks, they can pretend they are up on the mountain…
Back to your next challenging summer tramp. From the top of the sky-waka ride, the Ruapehu summit is about 9 km to the highest peak in the North Island, depending on the chosen route. There are many other options and views that surpass the famous “crossing”.