Tongariro Alpine Crossing: The Hobby Hiker's Goliath

 
The view looking back towards Mangatepopo at Soda Springs.

The view looking back towards Mangatepopo at Soda Springs.

 
 

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is in the Tongariro National Park and about 3.5 hours drive from Whakatane. We had a house in Turangi for the weekend, which was a bonus, especially as we got home late on Saturday night after the walk. Our day started early (I was up by 5am) - we managed to leave the house just after 6am and made our way to the Ketetahi End car park.

We had booked a one way shuttle with Tongariro Crossing Shuttles, which cost $30 each. You can book a two way shuttle pick up, but we wanted the flexibility of taking our time, and in hindsight, was the best option for us (you’ll read about it later!). There is very limited parking at the Ketetahi End car park, so make sure to arrive 30 minutes before your shuttle is due.

There were four of us on this adventure: Myself, my friend Jem and another hiking buddy, as well Jem’s son, Joe, who was my road trip buddy from Whakatane. 

Hobby Hiker's Tip: Being at altitude, you probably won't feel thirsty, but make sure to bring and drink plenty of water. I used a bladder, which is a water pouch that stayed in bag and had a tube for easy access.

Mangatepopo Road End
To Soda Springs

We set off at 8:40am from the Mangatepopo Road end - our group exuded equal amounts of excited and sleep deprived energy. The ground was fairly flat, and it was hard not to stop every few metres to take photos. The flora and terrain reminded me of the drive on Desert Road, and the various boardwalk sections were certainly picturesque. I loved how in the first hour, the sun would peek through the mountains and casting interesting shadows. Having been up for a few hours, it felt like the world was just waking up around us.