Kara and Aaron arrived at the ferry terminal in downtown Auckland around 10:30 on Friday. They got very lucky and had a direct flight from Dallas to Auckland due to some unique circumstances and arrived hours ahead of schedule! I was so excited to see them I practically ran to the terminal to meet them when I got Kara's text that they were nearby!
Unfortunately, I had to return to work for the rest of the day after saying hello and showing them to our apartment. After work we departed for a 4 hour drive to Kuratau complete with take away sushi in the car! We arrived pretty late to our vineyard chalet at Kuratau River Wines and headed to bed.
The next morning we awoke to a stunningly sunny day and set out for a 20k hike over the Tongariro Crossing. The hike was filled with amazing views, steep climbs, snowy crossings, smoking volcanic craters, boardwalks and crystal clear lakes. We took our time and enjoyed the trek taking 8 hours to finish. We all agreed it was the best hike we have ever been on despite it being one of the most physically demanding as well.
We shared many laughs together along the way from the hot lava, Justin's hatred of hiking, to "this is harder than I expected". We also improvised and found creative solutions to obstacles we encountered along the way including Aaron piggy backing me over the mud puddles to keep my minimalist running shoes I chose to wear dry and "skiing" down the pure gravel steep incline.
We ended the day with dinner at Valentino's Italian Restaurant in Turangi. Honestly, it was the only place open and pretty nice so we made quite the scene walking in with our dirty clothes and bare feet! All our feet hurt from the long hike and we couldn't face putting our shoes back on so we embraced the kiwi spirit and walked in sans shoes!
Tongariro erupted on 6 August 2012 and we could still see the crater smoking during our hike in mid-November. Then exactly one week after we finished the crossing, Tongariro erupted again on 20 November! Crazy that we hiked over an active volcano!
I hope you enjoy this selection of photos (sorry, I couldn't help myself and posted sooo many!) and you can see more of the crossing and our entire trip here and here if you want.
|K&A just a few minutes into the hike|
|Boardwalk looking back|
|Kara jumping over hot lava|
|Posing on the way up Devil's Staircase|
|Rescuing Kara as she slipped over the edge into Red Crater|
|Sisters in silhouette|
|Seriously...stop and consider turning back!|
|View on the way up|
|The group at the summit|
|View from summit over Blue Lake|
|Looking down on the Emerald Lakes|
|I told you we encountered snowy crossings!|
|There was no turning back at this point (over halfway)....|
|J, K, and A on the super long down hill stretch with views over Lake Taupo|
|View back to the smoking crater from near the end of the trail|
|Almost there...only 3.1k left!|