Trek­ing Mount Ton­gariro’s Red Crater

South Waikato News - - Your Health - LUKE KIRKEBY

Some spend weeks plan­ning a trip to the Ton­gariro Alpine Cross­ing, but I hate plan­ning so it was a spur of the mo­ment de­ci­sion for me.

I’d been want­ing to do the cross­ing, which is lit­tle over an hour’s drive from Taupo, for years. With my younger brother Dane back from Perth for the Christ­mas break, it seemed like the per­fect chance.

‘‘Why don’t we do the Ton­gariro Alpine Cross­ing?’’ I asked him, my el­der brother Adam, and my younger sis­ter Br­yar.

A cou­ple of days later, af­ter drop­ping a car off at the Kete­tahi end, we found our­selves at the Man­gatepopo end loaded with back­packs full of snacks for the 19.4km hike. Shut­tles were avail­able but alas that would be plan­ning wouldn’t it?

Due to the hol­i­days the car park was packed so we walked up to the be­gin­ning of the track. Blan­kets of dust filled our lungs from pass­ing campers and buses.

The first part is done along a board­walk to pro­tect the na­tive veg­e­ta­tion sur­round­ing the Man­gatepopo stream un­der the shadow of Mount Ngau­ruhoe. It was back-to-back with dawdling vis­i­tors so I watched for every op­por­tu­nity to squeeze passed.

We made a small de­tour to view the pic­turesque Soda Springs and had a snack be­fore ven­tur­ing to the Devil’s Stair­case.

A sign warned about the pend­ing chal­lenge of the climb, which sees you reach 1600 me­tres above sea level. Some turned back.

‘‘My Asics were put to the test a cou­ple of times.’’ Luke Kirkeby

Be­sides a bit of heavy breath­ing I soon found my­self at the top.

From there we made the jour­ney across the vast South Crater which, due to its bar­ren­ness, called for a few Star­ship Troop­ers and The Mar­tian jokes.

The as­cent to the Red Crater and sum­mit was a lit­tle more chal­leng­ing due to the un­sta­ble ground. My Asics were put to the test a cou­ple of times. At the sum­mit we stopped for lunch.

We then made the de­scent.the ground was ex­tremely un­sta­ble and while many were try­ing hard to con­trol their speed we dug our heels in and let grav­ity take us. It’s prob­a­bly not ad­vised but man it was fun.

Once we’d passed the Blue Lake the moun­tain de­scent be­gan.

At the Kete­tahi Hut we picked up the pace and ran the last 5km back to the car to the shock of many. All up it took us six hours and we were buzzing. I know I said I don’t like plan­ning but bring on the next hike.

FAIRFAX NZ

Re­porter Luke Kirkeby by the Ton­gariro Alpine Cross­ing’s Emer­ald Lakes.

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