Tongariro National Park
North Island, New Zealand
Photo by Vicky Inglis: These Vagabond Shoes
Into the Volcano: the Tongariro Alpine CrossingOften billed as one of the best one day walks in the world, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing rewards hikers that take up the challenge with otherworldly landscapes and stunning views. The route takes in the jumbled rocks of old lava flows, steaming volcanic vents, lunar desert and jewel-coloured crater lakes. Just shy of 20km, with the short sidetrack to the summit of Tongariro (1,978m), the hike takes 6-8hours. The scorched cinder cone of Mount Ngauruhoe (recognisable as Middle Earth's Mount Doom) dominates the view across the National Park to Mount Ruahepu, and can be climbed as a side trip, however this will add another 2 hours trekking time. On a fine day you can see the perfect snow-capped peak of Mount Taranaki off to the south west.
The hike requires a moderate fitness, good footwear, and to be prepared for spending several hours outdoors in a remote area. It's worth giving yourself a few days in the area to get the best weather conditions for the crossing. Bus transport to the ends of the route can be arranged from several nearby locations, including Okahune, Tamaranui and National Park Village.