Top 10 Things to do in Wellington

Top Things to do in Wellington – Budget or FREE!

Maori Name: Te Whanganui-a-Tara

You will no doubt find yourself in New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington during your trip – especially if you’re seeing the country like we have, by campervan! So we have put together a list of some of the top things to do in Wellington.

Windy Wellington, is actually the windiest city in the world with average wind speed being around 16mph. It’s New Zealand’s 2nd largest city and is home to over 400,000 residents.

Despite most backpackers associating cities with being expensive, there’s heaps to do in Wellington for free OR on a budget. Therefore do not bypass this on your way to or back from the South Island. Especially if you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

Secret Lookout – Moa Point

One of the many beauties of Instagram, is recommendations from locals and other travellers alike.
When we arrived in Wellington we were sent a message from a local with a map to the exact location of this secret lookout. Well, I mean it’s not mega secret, but it’s not on TripAdvisor – so it’s an off the beaten track kind of place.

Pop Kekerenga St into Google Maps. When you arrive, park on the street and follow the below map to the abandoned war bunker.

Once you arrive at the top you will be rewarded with stunning views of Wellington and the South Island in the far distance. You can also watch the planes take off and land at Wellington Airport.

TIP: Get there in time for one of the best sunsets you’ll see in New Zealand! And wrap up warm in the winter, it’s windier than the city.

Top things to do in Wellington. Moa Point

Lord of the Rings – Filming Locations in Wellington

Why did I come to New Zealand? For all of this, of course. Steff on the other hand has been dragged along on my LOTR/Hobbit expeditions! We are constantly looking for the many filming locations across the country.

Get yourself to Mount Victoria and simply whack ‘LOTR location car park’ into Google Maps. Keep your eyes peeled for the official ‘Lord of the Rings Filming Location’ sign post and follow the path.

Not a hard or long walk at all, you’ll be guided through the beginning of the forest with small signs. Don’t forget to look out for the benches that have many of the famous LOTR quotes on them.

First Location – Hobbits Hideaway

The first location you want to look out for is the scene when Frodo shouts: “Get off the road!” and the four hobbits hide from the ring wraiths. This is the first right turn on the walking track with the LOTR signpost. For this one, you have to really use your imagination as the props are obviously no longer there.

Top things to do in Wellington. Hobbits Hideaway

Second Location – Hobbits Smoke Pipeweed

The second location, my favourite, is more of a difficult find.  If you come back on yourself from the first location take the left at the fork instead.

Continue down the path and look vigilantly on your left hand side for the tree where Frodo sat with Sam-wise smoking a pipe.

When we found the tree, I made Steff be my Sam-wise, hopped on to the tree with a stick that looked like a pipe and used my vape to recreate that moment.

Top things to do in Wellington. Hobbits Smoke Pipeweed

Mount Victoria Lookout

Feast your eyes on 360° panoramic views of Wellington. You can drive right to the top, 195 metres above sea level, or get the bus there on weekdays.

At the lookout, you can also see the Byrd Memorial, in memory of Richard Byrd – an American polar explorer and aviator. He used New Zealand as a base for his Antarctic expeditions for 27 years.  

Weta Cave Workshop Tour

Wellington (also known as Wellywood) is New Zealand’s movie-production hub, and home to Weta Workshop and Weta Cave.

Although we did not do the 2 hour tour ($28 NZD per adult), you can still get up close and personal with the doormen of the studio. You may recognise them from The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey. After you’ve grabbed yourself a selfie with Tom, Bert and William (the trolls), you can still check out the Weta Cave Shop for FREE. In the shop you can wander through the mini-museum, admire the props and replica’s and get face to face with their life-sized sculptures.

Top things to do in Wellington. Weta Caves Workshop

Te Papa Museum

FREE entry and open every day 10am – 6pm, this place is a MUST DO when you’re visiting Wellington. You could quite literally spend the whole day there, but if you’re only looking to kill a couple of hours we suggest the following exhibitions:

Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War (60+ minutes)

An exhibition that truly captured us, for many reasons. As you move through the exhibition you will be told the stories through the eyes and words of eight phenomenal New Zealanders who found themselves in the toughest of situations.

Each moment frozen and captured on a monumental scale. Teaming up with Weta Workshop, Te Papa Museum have truly excelled with this, keeping your constant attention with interactive experiences, 3-D maps and projects and giant sculptures 2.4 times human size.

Top things to do in Wellington. Te Papa Museum. War Exhibition
Photo Credit: Te Papa Museum and Weta Workshop

Active Land (30+ minutes)

“Enter the realm of Rūaumoko, god of volcanoes and earthquakes, and explore the geological forces that shape our shaky land.” Hopefully you will know by this point into your visit that New Zealand is prone to earthquakes and less often, volcano eruptions. This is because New Zealand sits on the edges of two tectonic plates – the Australian and Pacific plates.

During this exhibition you will learn all about earthquakes, volcanoes and other natural disasters – both historically and futuristic. Our favourite part – the earthquake simulator. Hold on tight though!

Mana Whenua (30+ minutes)

Learn all about the Māori – the indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand, through treasures handed down the generations, pounamu pendants, and powerful stories. If you have had the opportunity to participate in a cultural experience (probably in Rotorua!) then you may recognise some of these traditions already.

In the exhibition you are able to enter Te Hau ki Tūranga, an amazing meeting house, and see a waka taua (war canoe) from the Whanganui region used in battle during 1800s.

Wellington Cable Car

You can either drive directly to Wellington Botanic Gardens or the Space Place Observatory, or, you can get a return ticket for $9 NZD (adult) from Lambton Quay to Kelburn and enjoy the stunning views of Wellington on the cable car. Or – park in Kelburn and catch a ride down to the city like we did!

Just a 5-minute ride either way, the old-school yet well maintained cable car a pretty cool way to get from A to B in the city. If you’ve got a bit more time on your hands, check out the Wellington Cable Car Museum and make a tit of yourself by getting dressed up to pose in front of one of the original cable cars. RETRO AF.

Top things to do in Wellington. Wellington Cable Car

Oriental Bay, Wellington

The closest beach to the city, this place is pumping in the summer! This is a cool place to come and have a drink or a bite to eat.

A Council project to enlarge and enhance both Freyberg and Oriental Bay beaches was completed in 2004 using sand from Golden Bay, Nelson. The beach’s sand area is now four times larger than before, and the Freyberg Beach grass area is twice as large.

Space Place at Carter Observatory

Space Place put on a live presentation of the night sky over New Zealand, and if you’ve been here a while, you’ll know that the skies at night can be pretty spectacular. For just $12.50 NZD (adult) you can explore the exhibition and take a look at the night sky through the historic Thomas Cooke telescope.

A super interactive experience, you’ll travel through Space Places very own black hole, handle a space rocket, and watch heaps of educational video stories. Bear in mind their opening times though:

Tuesday & Friday: 4pm to 11pm

Saturday: 10am to 11pm

Sunday: 10am to 5.30pm

Open daily during school holidays

Top things to do in Wellington. Wellington night sky

Wellington Botanic Gardens

If you’ve taken the cable car to Kelburn then you might as well check out the Wellington Botanic Gardens! With over 26 hectares of incredible views, exotic forests, native bush and colourful floral displays, you’ll have heaps of beautiful photo opportunities!

If you have the chance, check out the Lady Norwood Rose Garden – with over 3,000 roses in 110 beds, see the roses in full blood between mid-November to December.

Top things to do in Wellington. Wellington Botanical Gardens
Photo credit:

Breaker Bay (and all the rest of ‘em!)

We drove along the south east coast of Wellington City and found many beautiful bays and coves. We stopped off at Breaker Bay, and despite the wind, we were greeted with glorious weather. This beach is actually well known for being the location of Wellingtons only ‘clothing optional’ beach. It was a bit nippy for us though ay!

Top things to do in Wellington. Breakers Bay

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The Ultimate Canopy Tour Rotorua, New Zealand

What a way to finalise our Rotorua chapter after working and living there for 6 months! Rotorua Canopy Tours collaborated with us sending us on THE ULTIMATE adventure, zip lining through an ancient forest, and learning all about the impact this phenomenal company has made on the environment.

The best thing to do in Rotorua? Canopy Tours Rotorua is THE best activity you will ever do!

What to expect?

If we weren’t staring up at the trees saying ‘WOW’ as the guides filled our brains with information about the forest. We were stepping off a platform screaming ‘WOW’ as we flew 400 metres above the trees. It’s an experience that offers an incredible balance of both adrenaline and peace.

“But keep your eyes open, because there are views that you will not want to miss.”

Our guides, Emily and David, immediately made us feel like we were in safe hands, which is reassuring when you’ve been strapped into a harness and helmet (two things that predominately mean ‘this might be dangerous’).

Into the shuttle bus we hopped, to the magical native forest at Dansey Road Scenic Reserve.

Canopy Tours Rotorua top thing to do in New Zealand

The route through the forest

Gradually warmed into the experience, we enjoyed a walk through the forest, on route to our first zip line. Emily and David pointed out thriving types of ferns, trees and coloured fungi in this nearly pest-free environment. Before we knew it, we were being informed of the Do’s and Don’t’s of zip lining and climbing the stairs to our first platform.

Canopy Tours Rotorua top things to do in New Zealand

And – BAM – just like that, with only your heels on the platform and your toes peeping over the edge, you are above ancient trees over 500 years old.
Inevitably, you’ll feel your heart rate increase. All you need to do though is crouch, lift your knees and fly. Keep your eyes open, because there are views that you will not want to miss.

Not only did we fly across 6 zip lines, we crossed 50 metre long swing bridges, walked along a boardwalk attached to a cliff over 20 metres above ground, and abseiled up-side-down (picture SpiderMan).

Canopy Tours Rotorua top things to do in New Zealand

Why Rotorua Canopy Tours?

Opening to the public in August 2012, conservation efforts started soon after to bring life back to the forest. Not only will you be paying for a personal and unforgettable adventure, you’ll be contributing towards restoring centuries of neglect. So, if you’re a nature-lover AND an adrenaline-junkie, these two things go hand in hand with Canopy Tours.

CLICK HERE to read in full about their journey.

I’m keen, how do I book?

Simple as, if you know when you’ll be in Rotorua, head to THIS PAGE and get your adventure locked in. Our suggestion – go for The Ultimate Canopy Tours. Described as ‘Higher, longer, and more spectacular’ than the award-winning Original Canopy Tours. But both, an equally unforgettable experience.

A big thank you to Rotorua Canopy Tours for collaborating with us for this mind-blowing experience.

For more ideas on what to do in Rotorua CLICK HERE

Top 10 Things To Do in Rotorua, NZ

Having lived in Rotorua over the past 6 months working at Holdens Bay Holiday Park it’s fair to say we’ve turned Rotorua inside out when it comes to things to do! Taking every chance we’ve had to explore what Rotorua, or as the locals call it RotoVegas has to offer, we’ve come up with our Top 10 Things To Do in Rotorua.

We’ve included FREE options in the list as well as fairly CHEAP options too – all about sticking to that backpacker budget!

We’ve given each activity a rating out of 10 and the things we considered when deciding on the ratings were;
– how much value for money the activity was
– our overall experience of the activity which include the activity itself and the staff.


Rainbow Springs
Best time to visit: As this is more of a kids attraction you are better off avoiding any type of school holidays! Early mornings is usually best
Cost: $40 per adult/$20 per child for standard day pass
Rating: 6/10

If you’re looking to get your kiwi experience fix and get close to the iconic long beaked bird, this is the place to come! We were told everything there is to know about these cute little fluff balls by our excellent tour guide, and then given the opportunity to see the Kiwi bird. What a day! Rainbow Springs is perfect if you’re looking to fill some time with the kids, there’s heaps of birds, reptiles and a big splash log ride (which is actually quite frightening, as we found out!)

Things to do in Rotorua. Rainbow springs Rotorua


Agrodome
Best time to visit: Anytime as you book yourself onto a specific time slot!
Cost: Farm show & Farm tour is $69 per adult
Rating: 7/10

By far, one of the funniest days we’ve had so far. Neither of us were particularly keen on llamas or alpacas before this experience – but how can you not fall in love with these fluffy-long-knecked-teddy-bear-horse-like mammals. Being introduced to the various types of sheep was also a massive eye-opener… usually, we drive past a field and say “Ah, look. Sheep.” … now we can say… “Ah, look. A Merino, Leicester Longwool, and Romney Sheep.”

Things to do in Rotorua. Agrodome Rotorua


Hamurana Springs
Best time to visit:
It’s generally pretty quiet. We headed here around lunch time and there were only two other couples there.
Cost: $18 per person
Rating: 8/10

 Hamurana Springs is the deepest natural fresh water spring on the North Island. Its crystal clear water is stunning and the path is an easy 30 minute walk alongside the river and through a redwoods forest. Plenty of photo opportunities along the way and stunning blues, greens and turquoises amongst the water. Steff even tried her hand at feeding the scary black swans along the way…
The Springs are also located on the opposite side of the lake to Central Rotorua and provides beautiful views of Rotorua across the lake.

Things to do in Rotorua. Hamurana Springs


Te Puia
Best time to visit:
Early morning or just before they close (opening times 8am – 5pm)
Cost: In peak season (Summer) a day pass starts from $56 per adult
Rating: 8/10

 Te Puia is a mix of everything! You can watch traditional Maori cultural performances, walk round the geothermal pools, watch geysers erupt and gorge on the yummy Hangi buffet! The food was definitely our favourite part – the buffet is massive and the food is delicious!

Things to do in Rotorua. Te Puia Rotorua


Wai-O-Tapu
Best time to visit:
Lady Know Geyser goes off at 10.15am so you should aim to get to Wai-O-Tapu around 9:30-9:45am
Cost: $32.50 per adult
Rating: 9/10

 Definitely one to tick off the MUST DO in Rotorua list! Watching the Lady Knox Geyser erupt in the morning, followed by a beautiful walk around this geothermal wonderland, was truly an unforgettable experience. We were particularly impressed with the Champagne Pool – a beautiful yellow, orange and green smoking thermal pool.

Things to do in Rotorua. Wai-O-Tapu Rotorua


Okere Falls
Best time to visit:
Anytime
Cost: FREE
Rating: 9/10

Another easy but beautiful walk, just outside of Rotorua. Okere Falls is actually the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world, so if that’s your kind of thing then this is the place for you. However if you prefer to stay on the dryer side of life, head on the short trek to the view point of Okere Falls and watch the nutcases raft down the waterfall, it really is an awesome sight!

Edit: we are now a part of this nutcase crew as we tried our hand at rafting down this waterfall!

Things to do in Rotorua. Okere Falls Rotorua


Lake Tarawera
Best time to visit:
Anytime
Cost: FREE
Rating: 9/10

There are a number of viewpoints over Lake Tarawera but our favourite was down by the jetty at the very start of the lake. From there you can view Mount Tarawera in the background. When you drive up round further there are a number of view points, the second best, in our opinion, being the Lake Tarawera Lookout.

Its amazing how such a big lake stays so clear! The water is sparkling. The views are great at any point on a clear day, but if like us you are sunrise fanatics, the view from the jetty is even more spectacular!

Things to do in Rotorua. Lake Tarawera Rotorua


Tamaki Maori Village
Best time to visit:
Tours generally pick up from your accommodation or from the main office in the centre of Rotorua between 5pm-6pm. This varies slightly depending on the season.
Cost: In peak season (Summer) it costs $130 per person
Rating: 10/10

A perfect introduction to New Zealand if you want to indulge in the Maori culture and gain a good understanding through interactive learning, heaps of hakas, and bloody good food! Steff got involved with learning how to use poi’s and did a little wrist dance which was super entertaining!

Things to do in Rotorua. Tamaki Maori Village Rotorua


Kuirau Park
Best time to visit:
Anytime, but especially for sunrise.
Cost: FREE
Rating: 10/10

 This beautiful park in the heart of Rotorua is a perfect place to start your adventures and have your first glances at the geothermal delights Rotorua has to offer!
The highlight being a wooden walkway that disappears into the steam coming off of the geothermal lake that the walkway crosses. You’ll even spot a few bubbling mud pools… just go careful though as new thermal activity can appear at any moment and send a few rocks flying in the air!

Things to do in Rotorua. Kuirau Park Rotorua


The Redwoods
Best time to visit:
Anytime
Cost: FREE
Rating: 10/10

As it says on the label, these really are RED woods. Great towering trees that go on for miles and miles decorating the forest red. Probably our favourite forest walk, EVER. There are multiple paths you can take, ranging from 10 minute walks all the way up to 4/5 hour walks! When we visited the first time we took the green path which was the Quarry Walk. It took around 1.5 hours and was absolutely magical! We are planning on heading back to explore more. Not only are there beautiful red trees but crystallised branches in turquoise waters and big old trees fallen across paths to give it a real magical feel!

Things to do in Rotorua. Redwoods Rotorua

These are just a selection of the best things to do in Rotorua, there are many, many more activities and thrilling adventures to be had here in the cultural centre of New Zealand! If you have something else in mind, we’ve probably done it so feel free to drop us a message or visit our Instagram account We Are Wandering Travel for more inspiration!

Why Working at a Holiday Park in New Zealand is the Best Idea EVER!

So you’ve landed in New Zealand, your working holiday visa is in hand and you’re eager to explore and earn some money to continue your travels but you have no idea where to start?

Here’s where we tell you that you should head straight for Holiday Parks and/or Campsites…

If you have been following us on our journey through New Zealand then you’ll know that we’ve been busy at work earning $$$ and experiencing everything that New Zealand has to offer at the same time!

When we first landed, we didn’t expect to start working so quickly but we soon found out that New Zealand is expensive… extremely expensive! But don’t let that put you off! If you’re clever about it, you can enjoy all of the attractions whilst making money.

So, here our are top reasons to get a job working on a Holiday Park in New Zealand;

1. Working Hours are SWEET AS.

9 times out of 10 the hours are pretty sweet. We cleaned in the mornings 9:30am-1pm, had a 3 hour break in between where we had lunch, worked on the campervan or even headed out to explore.

Then we’d head back to the office for a 4pm-6pm shift.

2. Days off are during the week

Now this may not seem appealing to you at first… but try having your days off during the weekend and going out to explore to find every other person is doing exactly the same as you.

Having days off during the week are an absolute dream, as all the kids are in school and the adults are at work. Attractions are 10 times more quiet during the week!

3. Accommodation on site at a reduced cost

Yes I know, most farms/vineyards/orchards offer accommodation but you’ll more than likely find that this will be a camp spot where you live in your van… if you have one.

Or if it is actual accommodation its nearly as much as your weekly wage! At the campsite you’ll be looking at $100 per person to live in a cabin. And if you’re lucky like us, it’ll be a self contained cabin. So no need to be using the shared facilities!

4. Everyone who works at the park becomes your family

With everyone working and living on the park you come together like a little family.

When it’s a rainy evening, you’ve just finished work and want to have fun you all can head off to bowling or out for a meal.

And because the other staff will most likely be travellers like you, they’ll appreciate you need your alone time too.

So you’ll have every opportunity to go and explore. Its the perfect balance!

5. Opportunities to talk with fellow travellers

This is one of my favourite ones… as you’re checking guests in you get the opportunity to find out where they have been and where they are going.

They can offer you advice and you can offer them advice! It’s amazing what recommendations you can get that are not in any Lonely Planet or general travel guides!

6. You get to go on Famils

Now i’ve definitely saved the best for last. If you don’t know what a famil is… then we’re about to let you in on a secret.

It’s a fantastic little secret that the parks don’t tend to shout about! It’s a way of rewarding their employees.

Basically once you’ve worked hard and shown you’re there to stay for the long run, they will start sending you out on Famils.

They will send you to all of the activities and attractions in the surrounding areas for FREE. Yes ladies and gentleman…. you get to experience all of those crazy adventures for FREE!

Here is just a small list of what we’ve been able to experience working at the campsite (for free);

Traditional Maori Village experience (we’ve actually done this twice as there are two different ones!)
Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland
White Water Rafting
OGO (zorbing)
Skyline Rotorua

So, there you have it! If that hasn’t convinced you that working on a holiday park is the the way forward, then are you even sane!?

What are you waiting for!? If you haven’t already, get applying for that Working Holiday VISA and get yourself a camp life job!

Why you should work on a campsite during your working holiday visa in New Zealand

If you’re heading to Rotorua anytime soon, make sure you check out our Top 10 Things To Do in Rotorua!

How to survive the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

How to survive the Tongariro Alpine Crossing (Northwest of Mordor)

So you’ve decided you want to trek the Tongariro Alpine Crossing? But first, you need to know how to survive it right? Well keep on reading…

Mount Doom – ‘a fictional object destruction method from Lord of the Rings trilogy’

or

Mount Ngauruhoe – ‘an active stratovolcano in New Zealand’

Whatever you want to call it, it’s beautiful. And one of the many breath-taking views you’ll get to experience if you decide to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, one of New Zealand’s many ‘Great Walks’. In addition to Mount Ngauruhoe, you’ll also see Mt Ruapehu peeking over and Mount Tongariro. Despite it being a long time since any of these active volcanos erupted, it still gives the extra edge to the walk when you realise that if, IF, they were to go off – you would be well and truly f****d.

We did our research for this trek and we ensured we were prepared for all eventualities, so when it came to hopping off the shuttle bus at the very start of the trek – we were feeling pretty confident. Now, if you’re reading this blog in hopes of gaining some insight before you do the crossing – just know that each day on that track is different. So, if the weather is forecast to be clear and sunny then keep reading. If not, then… well… do some further research.

Mangatepopo Carpark   >   Soda Springs          1 – 1.5 hours

The easy part, a nice little warm up. The track is fairly flat with a lot of it being board walked.

Though, knowing that we had 19.4km ahead of us I wasn’t too keen on Steff celebrating every kilometre sign.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing. The start!

Soda Springs   >    South Crater                     45 mins – 1 hour

This part of the track, known as the Devil’s Staircase is very steep. It’s the part that everyone had warned us about. Permitting that you stop little and often for water and to re-fill your lungs – you’ll be grand. I feared this part and pictured it to be like the staircase in Covent Garden tube station but worse. It’s not as bad as you imagine – and much prettier than Covent Garden tube station. Winner. Steff has already climbed part of the Great Wall of China so it was an absolute breeze for her!

How to survive the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. The long drop!
The reality of any long hike. Long drop toilets. HOLD YOUR BREATH.

South Crater    >     Red Crater                                       1 hour 

Starting out flat, once you have passed the South Crater and your legs have recovered from the devils staircase there is another climb on an exposed ridge, leading to the Red Crater. Despite it being a clear and sunny day, the wind was fierce. You can see why this is a ‘turning-back point’ for a lot of people during the days with bad weather.

How to survive the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Red Crater
Red Crater. Although, it kind of looked vagina.
How to survive the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
Enjoying that flat walk…

Red Crater > via Emerald Lakes > Blue Lake    30 – 45 mins

HA! This part is hilarious. If you’re someone that’s guilty of enjoying the viral videos of people falling over then you’re in for a treat. A steep descent from the Red Crater, I was very proud of Steff for not falling over, considering her track record during hikes. Until the last moment when the ground was flat and she tripped. LOL. When you’re slowly descending and your shoes are deep in volcanic sand, you tend not to look up ahead of you. But try to, at least once or twice, because the Emerald Lakes are bloody glorious.

How to survive the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
The steep descent…
Emerald Lakes of Tongariro Alpine Crossing. How to survive the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Look at those happy faces!
Emerald Lakes of Tongariro Alpine Crossing. How to survive the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Before Steff tripped…

Blue Lake   >   Ketetahi Shelter                                       1 hour

A relatively short and easy climb to the edge of North Crater and you are greeted with truly spectacular views when the weather is good. You’re feeling it though at this point. I mean, mentally we were fine, we had a lot of ‘ooomph’. Our feet and legs however, just did not feel the same. A gondola ride back down to the car park at this point would have been fantastic, no matter what the price was. We ate the last of our snacks, fuelled up on water and tried to shake the life back into our legs after a short break at the shelter.

Pit stop for some snacks during the Tongariro Crossing. How to survive the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Fuelling up for those last K’s…
How to survive the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
LEGS. HAVE. STOPPED. WORKING.

Ketetahi Shelter    >      Victory. (car park)                 2 hours

Now, from what part of our memory recalls – this part is a beautiful walk. Shaded through the forest, a stream towards the end, birds are tweeting, and cicadas are clicking. However, neither of us are as fit as we used to be – so we blurred this bit out a bit. A majority of the walk was downhill, and because our toes were hurting so much they were just sinking into the tops of our shoes which is incredibly painful. Our knees were throbbing, hips were aching, and at any given moment we were just hoping that Samwise Gamgee would come along and carry US the rest of the way.

When we got to the 19 km sign, it felt just how people describe what holding their first born is like. I know, a little dramatic. But upon seeing the shuttles sitting there in the car park waiting for hundreds of hikers and their sore legs, Steff couldn’t help but cry a bit. Which was a hilarious ending to a perfect, challenging and beautiful hike.

How to survive the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Couldn’t be happier.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?

  • The Tongariro Alpine Crossing trek in total is 19.4 KM (12.1 miles) across various terrain.
  • The highest point of the trek is at the Red Crater – 1,886 metres
  • There is no guaranteed fresh water supplies on the walk
  • If the weather is forecast to rain or snow then you must be appropriately dressed for the conditions and ensure you have enough supplies and even shelter in case you get caught up there – consider paying for a guide too!

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE US?

We hopped on the 5:45am shuttle, started the trek around 6:30am and returned to the car park for the 3:30am shuttle. According to my Apple Watch, we walked for 7.5 hours and the rest of the time we had short breaks, toilet stops and seized all of the photography opportunities we could.

BEST PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES

There are so many! Our favourite shots were taken at the foot of Mount Ngauruhoe, overlooking the Red Crater, the Emerald Lakes and then towards the end when you have stunning views of Lake Taupo. We had our Canon EOS 1300D, tripod and Go Pro Hero 5 with us. Not too bad to carry!

How to survive the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
How to survive the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
How to survive the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
How to survive the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Mount Doom
How to survive the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Mount Doom

HOW DID WE GET THERE?

We booked with Summit Shuttles. As we live in Rotorua, we left on the Monday evening and stayed in a cabin at Turangi Holiday Park. We left the cabin around 4:30am to drive to the meeting place for the shuttle.

WHAT DID WE TAKE?

  • Backpack
  • 3 litres of water in a camel pack each
  • 1 bottle of Gatorade each
  • 2 sandwiches
  • 2 boiled eggs
  • Snack pack of protein balls
  • 1 bag of nuts and raisins
  • Raincoat
  • 1 banana
  • First Aid Kit
  • 1 apple
  • Torch – extra batteries
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Power Bank (to charge phones)
  • Woolly hats and baseball caps
  • Sun cream (this is extremely important!)

WHAT WOULD WE HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

I think we would have stayed somewhere closer to where the shuttle left from, that way we would have got some more shut-eye and wouldn’t have had to brunt the 45 minute drive back to the cabin.

What we also realised, is that we need better hiking boots. Our current ones are great for 3-4 hour hikes… not 7-9 hour hikes. And for those that we saw on the crossing with a small bottle of water and wearing trainers… we’d be really intrigued to know how the rest of your journey went. HA!

How to survive the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Mount Doom
Mount Doom, in all its glory.

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