Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngauruhoe, Mt Ruapehu. Magestic peaks in Tongariro National Park on the beautiful North Island, New Zealand. Whether you are a Lord of Ring fan or not, visiting Mt Doom is a must. What are other must dos in the area?
As a foodie, it is only right to mention first that the best lamb I ever had was at the Station Cafe, near route 4, close to Erua enroute to our hotel. Maybe because everything is so fresh in New Zealand. Maybe the chef is the best in the world. Maybe it's because we were hungry. I remembered the most mouth watering lamb in the universe from our dinner there. When my son was home a couple of weeks ago, we created a lamb dish similar to what we had and reminisced the magestic views.
After the good food, we had a good rest at the Tongariro Suites @ the Rocks. This place is a cross between a Bed and Breakfast and a luxury hotel. The best of both. You get the comfort of homy environment of a bed and breakfast with common areas where you can read a book, soak your sore body in the hot tub, play a game of chess or share stories with other guests. But then similar to a luxury hotel, you can choose to stay entirely private in an expansive room with a spa like bathroom complete with a huge free standing soaking tub overlooking Mt Ruapehu and a dream like walk in shower. Ample living area, your own deck, refridgerator and a table for 4 all within your room. And those comfy beds which you'll need after all the outdoor activities. This is the kind of place to stay for a month!
What comes to mind when you see these words: avalanche watch, crampons for getting through knee deep snow, ice pick to keep from falling into the crater? A live volano? Adventure came to my mind!! The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a must do if you are on the North Island. Summer for sure and winter if you are fit. In our case, after reading the treacherous conditions, Mr and I stayed back and enjoyed the beautiful grounds at the Tongariro Suites. We did send our son to check out Mt Ngauruhoe. Hehe. He is much fitter. And in the end, it was the right decision. As it turned out, it was an extremely difficult 19.4 km hike in the winter. Not only do you get the usual challenge of the mountainous terraine of steep hills and valleys, additional winter weather conditions make it even more treacherous with snow, ice and potential avalanche. Good health, excellent fitness and a tour guide absolutely recommened for a winter hike. Look at the magnificent snowviews my son was able to capture.
And if you find yourself near the Tongariro National Park in warmer months and still decide not to hike, you can take a helicopter ride to see the stunning Emerald Lakes. They are truly exceptional. Unfortunately it was winter when we visited and they were not visible with the snow.
We continued onto our journey after a couple of days. But we could have easily spent another week or two with so many outdoor activitiies available. Skiers will love the fresh powder snow at Turoa and Whakapapa ski areas. Non skiers can lose themselves next to the many magical waterfalls (http://waterfalls.co.nz/waterfalls-by-region/north-island/166-tongariro-national-park). So many great memories at the park that we hope to return soon.