Tongariro National Park - a dual listed World Heritage Area - boasts diverse landscapes for visitors to discover. With arid badlands, crater and alpine lakes, sparkling rivers, breath-taking lunar landscapes, lush rainforest and alpine meadows to be explored, a summer hiking vacation is an utterly unique experience not to be missed! The itinerary below is a basic outline. Your experienced local guide will choose the best walks to suit weather conditions and fitness levels, to ensure you get the most from your time in this special region. Difficulty: Moderate to hard
Day One - Arrive at your private lodge in Tongariro National Park, with breathtaking views of the volcanoes and park, enjoy a delicious dinner while meeting your fellow hikers and discussing tomorrow's adventure.
Day Two - 17kms 7-8 hrs walking - Tongariro Alpine Crossing - The track runs through the Mangatepopo Valley (900m) to the saddle between Tongariro and Ngauruhoe Mountains. Two steep climbs lead to Red Crater (1886m), then a scree slope drops down to the vivid Emerald Lakes. After passing the Green and Blue lakes the track sidles around the northern slope of Mount Tongariro, before the long descent of switch-backs and many steps to the end (600m). Fair weather and a good level of fitness are required to undertake this hike.
Day Three - 6-8 hrs walking - Ruapehu Crater Lake - The climb to the Mt Ruapehu Crater Lake is equally as stunning as the Tongariro Crossing, but offers a different array of landscapes and is crowd-free. Take a chair lift up to 2000m, then hike up to the Crater Lake near the summit (approx 2 hours up to 2660m). There is no formed trail; the guide will choose the best route through boulder fields, old lava flows and patches of snow. The climax is reaching the active acid Crater Lake, whose waters reach temperatures of up to 60 degrees C, not to mention the unforgettable 360 degree views from near the summit of the North Island's highest mountain. (This walk is very weather dependent, and may not be possible early or late season due to snow and/or chairlift being closed). If you fancy a more relaxing day you will have the option of joining a guide to do some of the shorter walks in the area, perhaps to the Tama Lakes,
Day Four - 3 - 5 hours walking - Taranaki Falls - After another delicious cooked breakfast pack up and leave the lodge. Today's walk may lead to the Taranaki Falls, tumbling 20 metres over the edge of an old lava flow, which erupted from Mt Ruapehu 15,000 years ago. The falls plunge into a boulder-ringed pool - a great spot for a picnic. The track passes through an interesting range of alpine meadows and beech forest. In total contrast to the previous walks there is also a perfect temperate rainforest to explore, and an historic Maori fortress.
Trip includes: All meals, snacks, hot and cold drinks; NZ wine and beer with evening meals; 3 nights lodge accommodation; full linen; Rotorua or Taupo return transport (door-to-door); transport to all walks; park fees; chair lift tickets; hot pool entry; knowledgeable and experienced guides. Dinners are delicious 2 course meals with a focus on NZ style cuisine, with generous pre-dinner nibbles and drinks. Breakfasts have cooked and continental options. Packed lunches are made fresh daily.