We left our bikes (Carmem Miranda and Ratatouille) on vacation, we got a relocation Motor Home and we had five days to drive from Christchurch to Auckland, as it was a short time, we pick some places where we would not be able to cycle around.
We drove until Kaikōura, one of the most affected cities at the earthquake, it happens last year, the road is still under reconstruction and part of it closes at night. It is a super charming beach town and Kaikōura is a famous to do whale watching and also to swimming with the dolphins.
We took the ferry on the next day to the North Island, we arrived in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand and we spent the day with a friend from Brazil. We had the opportunity to know better the city. Wellington is a big city with many buildings, and we were able to see the difference between the two islands, from nature and the cities.
One of the things that it was on our bucket list was Tongariro Alpine Crossing, the distance from Wellington to Mangatepopo car parking, the start point of the trail, is 340km. We left in the morning and spent the all day on the road, our plan was to get as close as possible to the National Park, to start the trail early in the morning, as the trail is one of the most famous trampings in New Zealand, the park receives hundreds of tourists every day.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a trail of 19.4km and takes 8 or 9 hours, which will depend on your physical condition. It is a challenge to walk this distance in a mountain region, so it is important that you are prepared with the right clothes and shoes. It is also a destination for those who love the trilogy of the film The Lord of the Rings, some of the important scenes of the movie was filmed there. All the way earns extra points for passing through active volcanoes and green lakes.
We parked the Motor Home at the parking place located at the end of the trail (Ketetahi), where parking place spaces are limited, so it is important to arrive early to find a space. The parking at the start point of the trail has a maximum stay of four hours, we advise to park our car at the final point and pick up a Shuttle Bus, which costs $35.00NZD per person, and takes you to the beginning of the trail (Mangatepopo).
We started the trail around eight-thirty in the morning, which was a quiet and flat start. After an hour of walking, a warning shows up: “Are you really prepared to continue?” This is a point on the trail that is possible to return, from now, there is no way to give up! LOL It’s the beginning of the summit, the climb, this stretch was not the hardest part and we continued on my way (slow and always!). It was a unique scenery. The landscape is so incredible that we did not even felt the tiredness.
Just before we reached the highest part of the crossing, the red crater, we stoped to rest a bit and have a snack. At this point, we were at 1700m above sea level, we could enjoy the whole area of the Tongariro National Park. From here we had only one more climb, the summit of the volcano, at 1800m and the most beautiful place so far, the green lakes. That moment when we could not stop admiring the perfection of nature. But to get to the lakeside we had to face the steepest descent and the softest sand, the most difficult part of the whole crossing in our opinion.
After the beautiful lakes were had three and a half hours of descent. As we arrived at the end, we entered into the forest at the other side of the volcano. The Tongariro trail impresses with the diversity of landscape, from the beginning to the end, from that reason it is one of the most desired trails of the country. We finished the trail around five o’clock in the afternoon.
We reached our goal and we went to Lake Taupo, the largest in New Zealand and where we spent the night. Unfortunately, we did not have the opportunity to know better, but from the little we saw, it is a beautiful lakeside city. In the morning, we said goodbye to our friend, our Brasilian mate who returned to Wellington, and then we drove to Auckland because we had a specific time to return the Motor Home.
We spent a week in Auckland at our friend’s place, we could rest our legs after the crossing, and also spend good times and share our new life with those special friends. Words will be never enough to thanks all the love that we have received during this week, they are friends that New Zealand gave us as a gift, people who opened their place to welcome us as a family. Thank you once again for the care and love with us, we will be always grateful for everything, and we hope that in some way we can return the hospitality.