As soon as November arrives, so do the tourists from overseas. Suddenly they all appear. Someone, somewhere, turns a switch. Typically, last night Tongariro River Motel (TRM) had tourists from Spain, France, New Caledonia, Sweden, USA, all here to tramp the Tongariro Crossing. (TRM also had a sole angler from Canada here for a month’s fishing on the Tongariro)
So much of SWMBO’s time is spent explaining the procedure for getting to and from the Tongariro Crossing. But when the realisation hits home that it can involve seven hours walking in an alpine environment and quite cold in the southerly wind yesterday, they are keen to consider other options, as follows:
(That is not really SWMBO dancing on one leg – see more from Kiki in her video above.)
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is the most popular one day walk in NZ.
But many tourist trampers are not prepared for the crowding. Quite understandable. Some 60-70,000 people do it every year mainly in Summer months. On a busy day there will be 2,000+ trampers. It turns into a very long tiring queue.
To avoid the crowding and early start necessary to catch a shuttle bus, many tourists have been asking about other similar challenging tramping experiences in the region – a dual world heritage park. These other options become more important when the weather conditions restrict access over the Tongariro Crossing, when there is no shuttle bus operation. TRM have several suggestions – offering more flexibility – as follows;
TRM’s first alternative option programme is ideal for when the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is closed due to marginal weather conditions involves three different walks featuring:
second – a 2 hour lap around a hidden lake surrounded in beautiful native bush,
third – a 2 hour alpine loop walk on Mt. Ruapehu to a waterfall on the edge of the lava flow.
Together these offer more variety of different tracks in different parts of the central plateau.
(1) Starting from TRM is a pleasant one hour Tongariro River Walk along the Tongariro River banks providing good views over Turangi and across the river swing bridge. This lap is often used as a test to see if tourists are fit enough to even consider the Tongariro Crossing. If they cannot complete it comfortably under an hour they are advised they have not ‘qualified’… TRM cannot afford to lose inmates.
Then you can have a relaxed morning tea at TRM (or Creel Cafe?) before the next stage…
(3) A two hour alpine loop walk on Mt. Ruapehu to Taranaki Falls a spectacular waterfall which tumbles over the edge of the lava flow.
One of the real advantages is that there are cafes and and information centre available nearby in Whakapapa village.
There is even a ‘high tea” experience at the Chateau.
In fact, others who have done the Tongariro Alpine Crossing before, vote the three track option as a more enjoyable superior experience… Variety is the spice of life… But there is more. Thee are several other river walks and remote alpine tracks in addition to those three options that only local hobbits know about. Ask SWMBO – that is Her on right in the photo above – at the Taranaki Falls..
If after finishing the Taranaki Falls walk, you need a more exhilarating caffeine fix, there is still time to drive to the top of Bruce Road and (weather conditions permitting – i.e. no wind?) and take a chair-lift to the summit cafe – the highest cafe in the Southern hemisphere. From the cafe you can almost see West Island. We said ‘almost’.
Highly recommended – which brings us on to an even more challenging ‘bucket list’ climb.
For those who have already walked the Tongariro Crossing this should be the next item on the bucket list…
Go on – if you could consider the six hours trek on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing you could do Ruapehu.
Hillary did it. So why not? TRM will provide a full report on this later in the year when it is safe and most of the snow has melted. Watch this space.
Below is the TRM team that ‘knocked the bastard off’ in January 2015. And survived…