In the past 5 days we hiked from Taumarunui to National Park Village and covered 109,5 kilometres on the Te Araroa Trail.
Total TA kilometres: 1165,5 kilometres according to maps
Philippe: Tongariro Crossing
Nadine: Tongariro Crossing
Please note: The stated kilometres are approximate. The hiking times are pure walking times, without breaks. On average we take 1,5 – 2 hours breaks during the day. The smiley’s describe our mental, the muscle arm our physical state. 10/10 is the best.
You find our actual pictures from the trail on Instagram.
Day 42: Taumarunui (Zero Day)
4 kilometres (at least 😉)
As usual, or Zero Day was mainly about our chores and not much time was left for anything else. We hitched to the centre for resupply, the bounce box and the blog. We got the parcel without problems. So Nadine could exchange her old shoes with a pair of new ones. My old shoes still have to last another +/-400 km. But as always after sending off your parcel, the mesh above my pinky toe ripped off. With glue and tape it should be fine until Palmerston North.
In the late afternoon we’d finished our chores and even met Michael and Emily and two other Te Araroa hikers (Steffan and Brendan) in a café.
Back at the campground my hip and shoulder and my digestion started to protest. Meanwhile I believe that I can’t tolerate fresh food anymore. I prepared for tomorrow with Ibuprofen cream and bedrest.
The cabin was great and we could spread out a little and organise ourselves. We spent the day in the centre of town. We did our resupply, went to the post office (collecting the bounce box and sending it off again) and indulged ourselves ina fresh burger and wedges for lunch. In the library we made use of the computers snd free WiFi, before we returned to the holiday park by hitchhiking (4km out of town, and since it was our Zero Day we decided we’d walked enough inside the town).
In the evening I felt completely worn out and wondered why it is that our Zero Days are in a way more exhausting than some hiking days…
Day 43: Taumarunui to 42 Traverse (Tongariro Forest)
34,5 kilometres, 6h30min
The first 17 kilometres were on tarmac roads. For a change the weather was nice and the scenery fairly interesting. The time was flowing with podcasts in my ear. Solely the hip and shoulder were an indicator for time or how many kilometres we’d walked. In Owhenga we had a cosy lunch in the sun.
After the small place we walked on a 4WD track through the Tongariro Forest. Due to the good track I had enough time to indulge the forest visually.
Our destination for the day was not clear until we met Yoel and Eitan who camped at one of the few green and flat spots next to the track. After some minutes of hikers talk we decided to stay and set up our tent next to theirs. Now we had enough time to write and relax.
My first day in new shoes! My first pair still was quite okay, but shortly after kilometre 1000 a root in the Pureora Forest tore the front mesh part into two pieces, so that my toes stuck out. For the hike to Taumarunui I managed to sew it, but I decided to get the new shoes out of the bounce box which practically was waiting for us in Taumarunui.
So today I walked in new shoes and didn’t get a single blister! Definitely an advantage of trail running shoes which don’t need to be broken in.
By the way, my new sleeping pad will probably have to be put off till Palmerston North (400km), because it will be the next place with bigger outdoor stores.
Day 44: 42 Traverse (Tongariro Forest) to start Tongariro Alpine Crossing
28,5 kilometres, 6h30min
Although we hadn’t a very long day ahead of us we started shortly after 7am. The gray, dense clouds urged us to. We continued on the 4WD track, which got increasingly steep, muddy and slippery. At some point there were no makers and without GPS we surely would have walked the wrong way because of the confusing network of tracks. We had to cross two rivers. And numerous mud- and waterholes threatened our efforts to keep our feet dry. Until I fell into a mudhole.
Suddenly the sky opened up and the sun showed up in all her glory. Another spectacular picture were the volcanoes of the Tongariro National Park. As soon as we were out of the forest the mountains were our constant companions. The view of the slumbering or dead giants was great. We almost forgot the weather forecast (rain) for our Tongariro Crossing. We camped near the shelter of the parks entry. It was fun to watch the day hikers as the finished their hike.
Today was unspectacular, until we got our first climpse of the volcanoes of the Tongariro National Park, which towered majestically towards the deep blue sky. The weather would have been perfect to do the crossing today. We hope to get at least some fine hours tomorrow when we do it.
At the monent I lack a bit in energy and motivation. I guess that comes from not getting a good night’s sleep (due to the defect sleeping pad) for one and from women’s problems also. So it’s all evanescent. 😉
Physically I feel very well otherwise. No blisters, inflammations or other minor ailments.
Day 45: Start Tongariro Alpine Crossing to Mangahuia Campsite
40 kilometres, 10h40min
It was an unexpected long but still a perfect day. Instead of the forecasted rain there was a blue sky, a gleaming sun and a fierce wind. We started at 7am (860m) to see as much as we could of the Crossing without the mass of day hikers.
We couldn’t believe our luck while we were climbing up and had this amazing panorama with Lake Taupo behind our backs. A short stay in the Ketetahi Hut, which was damaged by an eruption and since then is used only as a day shelter, and we moved on until we reached the first crater planes and could see Mt. Tongariro. Even this sight was mindblowing because we couldn’t see a thing the last time (2009). The fog and the bad sight is still a lasting memory. At the Emerald Lakes pure joy flooded through me. Just a small group had passed us so far and we had the lakes and the climb up to Red Crater just four ourselves. My camera hadn’t been so busy for a long time. And no silly glaring and colourful dots (aka people) on my pictures!
But at the Red Crater (1868m) it was over with our togetherness. No reason to be sad. I had my pictures, we were walking the nicer route (panoramas) and we had Mt. Ngauruhohe – the perfect volcano – until the Mangatepopo Hut always in our sight.
After a one hour lunch break with a great view we hiked on the Great Walk Route to Whakapapa. Another highlight. There was Tussock country around us and in front of us the snow covered Mt. Ruapehu. A tempting ice cube in the heat of the day. On the summit we most certainly would have had a view reaching to the East Coast and Mt. Taranaki. But this experience we made six years ago on a ski trip 😉.
In Whakapapa we refreshed ourselves with ice cream (Nadine) and juice (Philippe) and we didn’t want to continue for much longer. It would had been another 20km to National Park Village. The route is infamous in bad weather (tomorrow rain) but for us it should have had been only +/-500m to the next suitable campspot. But when we left at 5pm it took is another 3,5h. After 500m there was no campspot, then there was a iron containing and acidic river and later on one with aluminium. Soon it was clear to me that we had to walk to Mangahuia Campsite.
At the junction on the Round the Mountain Route it was obvious. We wouldn’t find a campspot. The sign showed 2h 45min (ca. 7km) to Mangahuia. Well, we packed out our last cookies and chocolate, stuffed ourselves and agreed (it was 6.40pm) that we reach camp at 8.30pm. With rain it wouldn’t have been possible to make it in time because the rain turns the route into one waterway. We mobilised hidden strengths and pushed on. 1h 50min later we reached Mangahuia Campsite. No wet or muddy feet. Exhausted but happy. It was a wonderful day in this alpine wonderland.
As expected, the sky was overcast and a drizzle made me mentally prepare for a hiking day in rain gear. The first kilometres of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing led through a lovely forest, whose trees got sparser with every metre of elevation we gained. When we reached the treeline after 40 minutes we were blinded by the sun. There was not a single cloud above us, the sky was bright and before us the steaming vulcanic spurs awaited us.
The weather was – against all expectations – fabulous all day. We couldn’t have wished for anything better.
Also, since we walked against the recommended direction it took several hours before we met the first day tourists. We could take lots of pictures of this impressive environment with not a soul to be seen. Over and over we shook our heads unbelievably of the luck we had.
Shortly after 4 pm we reached Whakapapa Village, our actual destination for today. But the campground there costs 21$ p.P. (!) and we wanted to save those costs, especially considering that we already booked the hostel in National Park Village for the next two nights. So we continued on the Te Araroa and wanted to camp somewhere in the forest close-by. Soon we had to realise though that this forest is not at all camping-friendly. Quite hilly, lots of small trees and brush. So what should we do? Of course, keep on walking.
That’s how we, after hiking the Tongariro Crossing, just kept on walking for another 14 kilometres, until we reached a DOC campsite 6km before National Park Village. And it wasn’t even bad (in fact I felt great) and it was ideal to walk that track in dry weather. In wet conditions the streams would have been dangerous to cross and the track would have been extremely muddy.
We reached the camp at 8.30 pm and two hours later we were, well fed and tired, in bed… ehm, the sleeping bag. It seems like the alpine environment gave me a burst of energy and motivation. I guess I’m a mountain’s person after all. 😉
Day 46: Mangahuia Campsite to National Park Village
6,5 kilometres, 1h15min
The rain was pouring down and I felt lucky that we had hiked the additional 14km yesterday. It wouldn’t have been fun to walk it. We got ready slowly because we only had to walk 6,5km on the State Highway. Because of the fog it wasn’t a very relaxed stroll. One third of the cars didn’t have the lights on and the least were prepared for two hikers on the side of the road. You drive to, where you look to. Sometimes it was close but this time I never had to jump aside. 😉
At the YHA Backpacker in the National Park Village (expensive and lousy internet) we had to wait until 12am to check in. We planned our food for the next nine days (incl. 5 days canoe tour on the Whanganui River) and wrote our trail journals for yesterday.
Without a shower we hitched in the rain to Ohakune and did our shopping. At Yeti Tours we booked the tour, packed the food into the barrels and got some theoretical instructions. We recieve the practical part in Whakahoro.
Before we hitched back, out of the blue we met Yoel and Eitan again. They (as we assumed) walked wrongly in the Tongariro Forest (Traverse 42) and also took a different route after the Tongariro Crossing to Ohakune. Our reunion was warm because we possibly won’t see them before Wellington. They save the money for the canoe tour and walk on a different route to Palmerston North. (We’ll miss you guys 😆)
We managed to get back to the Backpacker in time for dinner. Pizza and mince pies!
An unexpected Nero Day! Because of our long hike yesterday we had less than 7 kilometres to walk to National Park Village today. We arrived at the hostel before 10 am. So we decided to hitch to Ohakune today, where we needed to resupply and organise the canoe tour on the Whanganui River. It was raining on and off all day and we were really happy that we’d had such great weather yesterday.
When we were finally done with everything at 5 pm we walked towards the town’s exit to hitch back to National Park Village.
“Philippe! Philippe! Over here!” Suddenly Eitan and Yoel shouted and beckonned us from the other side of the road. For three days we haven’t seen each other. But for those who watched us it might have made the impression that we survived deadly obstacles and were separated for months. 😉
But our reunion was just brief. It was just long enough to exchange hiker news, hand over our in the forest forgotten tent peg (thank you!) and we had to leave already.
Our paths will part from here. We’re going to paddle to Wanganui on the Whanganui River, while they’re going to walk to Palmerston North directly.
But we surely will meet again somewhere, that’s how the Te Araroa works…
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