The day long trek through the Tongariro crossing is unique and the perfect balance of vigorous hiking without going too far. The crossing between the active volcano "Mount Doom" and Tongariro takes you through a journey of vastly different landscapes from bare mountains, to bubbling craters, to sulfuric neon lakes, to flat craters resembling the moon. It is no wonder a good chunk of Lord of the Rings was filmed here including the infamous Mordor - so awesome!
This is a must-see for anyone that enjoys hiking. Be sure to wear good shoes, bring plenty of water (as there is none along the way) and be prepared to climb up and down some steep mountains. It is not an easy hike but doable for anyone with a mid-level of fitness.
Start your journey with a pleasant walk way that leads to the start of the climb. From here you climb up the mountain on steep stairs that seem endless towards the end. Once you make it through this tough part you can enjoy a unique, flat landscape that looks like the moon with a view of Mt Ngauruhoe (Mordor) on your right.
After walking on the moon you climb up a steep mountain to reach a 360 degree view of everything around. New Zealand has such clean air you literally can see to the end of the world.
Walk through the Emerald and Blue Lakes that turn neon from dissolved minerals around lunch time. You can't drink the water but you can soak your feet in the mineral rich lakes to cool down!
Enjoy the rest of the way down the back with a view of the great Lake Taupo in the distance and steaming volcanic geysers at your side.
In total the hike is about 7 hours depending on your speed. Bring a healthy lunch and sunscreen. Although the weather is nice and cool, the sun is strong so you get warm as you hike. As soon you land in some shade or slow down it gets chili again. I'll take that over extreme heat any day - hiking in high temperatures is miserable to me!
Want more New Zealand? Check out my summer adventures post on the North Island.