Hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is something at the top of most backpackers to do lists when they get to New Zealand; and for good reason! It has been claimed as one of the best day walks in not only New Zealand, but the world!
As was our original plans; most travellers opt for a self-guided tour of the crossing however, when we got the opportunity to go out on a fully guided tour, we couldn’t say no! Adrift Outdoor Adventures hold tours all year round in pretty much any weather conditions!
The first thing you notice with the staff members is their big smiles. You can see their enthusiasm for their jobs from the get-go; and who can blame them? Getting to hike one of the best trails in New Zealand on an almost daily basis; sounds like heaven!
Once your guide gets you suited and booted and your lunch has been handed out; you’re ready to go! Adrift offer you the correct walking boots, waterproof jackets etc, so don’t worry if you don’t have it all before you get there!
The drive itself from the Tongariro National Park Village is spectacular and really gets you pumped for a day of exploration and adventure! We were blessed to have an extremely clear day ahead of us with low winds and fantastic visibility!
If you’re like me and you like to hike for the views and experience; and not just to say you have done it; then this is the hike for you!
The views never get old and you won’t be able to put your camera down the whole day (so make sure everything is fully charged)! As you rack up the hours the views get even more awe-inspiring! From Mt Ngauruhoe to the Emerald Lakes and the Red Crater you quickly realise that this is a very special place to be in the world!
A lot of people are concerned about their own fitness level. You can hear a lot of backpacker banter of how hard the trek is and how you need to be uber fit.
Let me just lay it down for you. I am not the perfect image of fitness, However, Scott and I do do a lot of walking when we travel. Nothing major but we can easily rack up 10km in a day of walking without a second thought.
At the end of the day their are two challenging moments of the crossing. The devils staircase and the climb up to the red crater. Both are not that bad and all you have to do is to keep it at your own pace. Your first clue is that you don’t need mountaineering experience to do the hike, especially in summer, so don’t worry!
Most people will agree but the hardest part is the final couple of hours. As you zig zag down the mountainside; it honestly feels as though it is never going to end! Your feet are blistering at this point and your legs are tiring. But that is to be expected on a 20km walk! With a monster of a blister forming on the back of my left heel; I just wanted the finish line to appear in front of us. Instead a further 2 hours laid ahead as I felt my newly formed blister had just burst pushing me quicker down our final decent.
Your tour guide will point out some great little insider knowledge along the way and will make sure no matter what your fitness level and age; that you feel involved as part of the tour.
You could tell from the start that the staff at Adrift are extremely competent and you felt extremely safe in their presence. I do feel that if you planned to do the crossing in Winter or even on a summer day where weather is extremely bad; seriously, the weather changes every day, their guides would get you across safely and make the experience one to remember regardless of the weather. We were lucky enough to get incredible weather conditions with wind being almost non-existent.
On that note, the only thing I could say is that I wished we got more from the tour. The information was great and it’s important to have a guide if you are unexperienced when the weather is dangerous. However, on a day like we had I would have loved for the staff to have gone one step further so everyone felt as though they got the most from their money.
Most backpacks like to save a few dollars and do it self-guided where you jumped on a shuttle from Taupo or the national park and head out for a day of solo exploration. But like I said; in winter and when the winds are extremely high; a guided tour is probably a good idea.
Overall we had a fantastic time with Adrift and I would completely recommend them if you do want a guided tour on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
Disclaimer: The tour was provided to us for free in return for being featured on my blog. All opinions are my own and as always; honest as hell!