New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary

The most efficient and fun way to explore NZ would be to do a New Zealand road trip, aka self drive. I extended my business trip in New Zealand (NZ) last February by 5 nights, squeezing in 2 weeks worth of attractions and adventures!

My blog would not be able to cover everything about my trip, this blog can only document my own fun experience . Itinerary planning is subjective, do drop me an email if you need more recommendations.

hint : Go to the end for the link to my NZ photos (300+), I would have more descriptions in the album.

I am one Happy Tramper!
I am one Happy Tramper!

KIA ORA! Follow hashtag #SengkangBabiesNZ for my NZ adventures. This is our 4th post about NZ, click the links to read about Tongariro Alpine hike (7 hours) and Pinnacle Hut stay ( 3 hours) and Old coach road cycling here (2 hours).

NZ is 3000 times bigger than Singapore, and Singapore is only slightly bigger than Lake Taupo! NZ has less than 5 million population and more sheep than humans (what!)

As you read on, you will realise how difficult it is to plan an itinerary. NZ is blessed with many beautiful mountains and bike trails (too much nice Instagram photos out there).

Hiking, Cycling, Bungee, cafe hopping and shopping, there is something for everyone.

I wanted to see and experience everything, but I needed to prioritise. (example, my Google link itinerary below listed at least 10 beautiful waterfalls!)

1500km New Zealand road trip
New Zealand road trip

So many things to see and experience, so little time! Let us explore more New Zealand road trip tips

1) Car rental companies are abundant, and the daily rate are from 50 NZD onwards. If you book during off-peak and in advance, you will get better rates. Petrol is around 2 NZD per litre.

Campervans are very popular with tourists, especially families. There are various “backpacker” coaches to bring you around but travel time would be longer.

1a) Download app “CamperMate” to find the nearest camp sites or Holiday parks. https://www.backpackerguide.nz has all the tips about campervan, from rental,comparison to Holiday Park reviews.

Having a campervan does not mean you can park anywhere :p

2) New Zealand drives on the left side of the road (same like Singapore) and drivers seat on the right. Get use to roundabout (always give way to vehicles from the right).

Refer to our Google map itinerary link . The “NESW” North, East etc) denotes the relative orientation (and distance) from Auckland Airport


3) New Zealand has so much to offer, this is after all beautiful Middle Earth! Many folks from Europe on winter-break will spend a minimum of 3 weeks exploring NZ.

Usual questions for those seeking a New Zealand road Trip:

-What attractions should I target? (too much waterfall and parks, or even LOTR)
-Should I drive clockwise or anti-clockwise around NZ?
-Should I return my car to Auckland or Wellington? Or ferry my ride between North South Island?
-Should I fly home from Auckland or Christchurch etc?

 

6D5N NZ Self Drive itinerary: Auckland> Taranaki> Tongariro National Park>Rotorua> Coromandel> Auckland

4) Google Map distance estimation is always too ambitious, there are many mountain and hilly terrains around NZ. Not recommended to go fast in new terrains, and there is no shortage of potholes on gravel roads.

You will encounter numerous unplanned stopovers. Some cars will be parked along designated “scenic spots”. Imagine a mini picnic, munching on sandwich while admiring the scenery.

Besides, there are a lot of farms in the hilly areas, farm animals herding is very common (cows photo, delay for 30 mins) . You might experience road works on single lane roads too, driving at 20kmh for up to 5 km haha.

Cater for extra time to return your car too. I was late and it was a mess to offload my barang barang (souvenirs and laundry) from car into suitcase. Do take note most car rentals do not drop-off at Auckland airport, but at their retail office 3km away.

5) Drive SAFE! Driver fatigue is a killer, have enough rest and hydrate well. When you feel like dozing, pull over for a washup or a 15 min power nap. Apples kept me awake.

Speeding tickets are designed to hit you in the pocket (read TripAdvisor for real life summons stories). City area and highway speed limits are 50kmh and 100kmh respectively. Most Kiwis obey the speed limits,  I am guilty of speeding on a few occasions…

The no1 rule for NZ self drive, cater extra time!

6)Another first for me. .
Using a coin to buy a carpark lot duration. Locals will use Mobile App to park. (I suspect NZ city parking is much more expensive than SG)

7) My budget accommodation are hostels and backpackers lodge. Look at the tips above again, decide where would you stay 1 or 2 nights (setup as a base). You do not want to pack and unpack every night.

I enjoyed chatting with the international travellers, wide spectrum of society. Met folks from France, Germany (openly gay couple), Spain, Hong Kong (Uncle participate in annual cycling and run) and even Peru (sisters, I thought they were Philippinos).

Read on for my North Island explorations. The ratings out of 5 is my personal view.

a)My stay in Auckland was at Sofitel Auckland

Very comfortable near marina area( not my own budget), this marina stretch comes alive with sunset, Happy Hour.

a1) Visited Mount Eden (rated 3/5) in Auckland. There is a crater at the top, and offers a splendid panoramic city view. Many climb and jog to the submit to enjoy the sunset.

a2) View from Sky Tower (rated 3.5/5) This iconic tower is a landmark in Auckland, and can be seen from all corners of the city. From the top, spot marinas and sails, surrounding islands, and the pink bike path caught my attention ( I thought it was a water canal)


You can pay to Skywalk and Bungee from the 328m tower too! (no thanks)

But New Zealand is more than Auckland. We must leave the city to explore the abundant natural landscapes.

Ask anyone and 99% will tell you South Island is more beautiful and scenic than North Island. Unfortunately, I only had time to explore the North, and my 6D5N New Zealand Road Trip only touched 20% of North Island!

I would need minimum two weeks to explore the South 🙂

a3) From Auckland, we have some day trips. One was at Waiheke Island (3/5 for me, 4/5 if you love wine tasting), famous for its wineries.

b) I started my own itinerary by driving 300km South towards Mount Taranaki (Egmont).

(Would be 4/5 if I hike to hut)
Also known as Mount Fuji of New Zealand (no disrespect to Kiwis), hikers will enjoy the marvelous reflection at the tarn (photos on Instagram).

I was sold at the picturesque frame, alas I failed to complete the hike. This was the single regret I brought home from NZ.

But I learn valuable lessons from this disappointment:
– catering “extra time”  for driving
– leaving non-important items (DSLR and tripods) from your hiking backpack

(L:Taranaki in background, R:Tongariro ridges)

b1) Along the way, I picked apples at Fruitdale Orchards (GPS -37.709511, 175.237092 ). Depending on the season, the farms will offer different fruits. Just Google PYO to find nearest farm (PYO stands for Pick Your Own)

Irresistible experience (rated 4/5), just $3 per kg. This was also the first time I see and pick apples off the tree!

Below URL will be helpful for you to find your apples and farms 🙂
http://www.pickyourown.org/newzealand.htm

b2) There are many detours in NZ for your planning considerations. Nature lovers rejoice! Part of the fun from New Zealand road trip is to go for spontaneous stops.

Example, something happening like Waitomo Caves (Rated 4/5 the caves were magical for me). Black water tubing looks cool (GPS -38.264773, 175.114157). Imagine glow worms in total darkness, and floating along the cold tunnel on a tube! (YouTube video)

We only took the walking and boat tour. Amazing spectacle, the glow worms are like mini-leds (or stars) flickering from the roof!

Visitors will be impressed with the stalagmite and stalactites too. Not easy to witness them link from roof to floor. These structures only grow 1cm every 100 years! My colleague sang a beautiful hymn inside the cavern, magical!

b3) Visit real KIWIS (the flightless birds would be rated 3.5/5) at Otorohanga Kiwi House and Native Bird Park (GPS -38.179735, 175.213383).

Video: Cutest Kiwi video I have seen! (credit IG @lucileevb )

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Lucille van Baalen (@lucilleevb) on

It is very difficult to find kiwis in the wild, thus most folks opt for sanctuaries. The kiwis are raised from young and released to the wild. Do take note of the feeding timing.

 

You will notice that most attractions entrance in NZ starts from NZ $20. Big families might need to budget and be selective.

new zealand self drive
New Zealand self drive

b4) There are too many waterfalls in NZ! Bridal Veil Falls was along the way (Rated 3/5, GPS -37.907279, 174.900674).

b5) Before we reach Egmont (New Plymouth) neighbourhood, and if low-tide conditions, do pop by Three Sisters and the Elephant Rock (GPS -38.819399, 174.580365). This area is also famous for the black sand along the beach, facing Tasman Sea.

b6) I am more an adventure junkie rather than foodie. But the cafes I Googled and visited are all fabulous.

Good flat white, tasty treats and super friendly folks! Pop into any small town cafe and it is likely the bosses will know all their customers by names 🙂

Craft beers anyone? I am sure there are many pitstop to quench your thirst (drink in moderation, do not drink and drive)

b7) Sheeps and cows dot the beautiful landscapes. You will spot some horses too. These animals are all over the place, grazing like nobody’s business.

b8) Back to our New Zealand Road Trip. From Tongariro National Park, I drove NE towards Rotorua.

A few famous attractions dot the journey. Driving along Lake Taupo circumference for almost 1 hour plus!

The majestic Huka Falls (GPS -38.648827, 176.088371). So much water gushing down the narrow channel! Feel the thunderous ROAR.

b7)Wai O Tapau (Rated 4/5, GPS -38.358189, 176.368995) would be cool, but I was late and attraction was about to close. A pity to miss the colourful geothermal spectacle. Truly, one of nature’s wonders.

b9) Kerosene Creek (rated 4.5/5, GPS -38.334545, 176.385927 ) is a secluded gem. You have mini waterfall and ponds, all filled with hot spring water! Super relaxing to sit under the cascading water to sooth away the fatigue.

Rotorua area is world famous for geothermal climate.

b10) Another popular site at Rotorua is Redwoods Treewalk (rated 4/5, GPS -38.156972, 176.272971).

Admire the huge trees, and maze-like trails.

In the evenings, lanterns line an overhead skywalk. Crowds arrive non-stop late into the night. Do take note “forest entry and hike” is free, but tickets apply for skywalk.

Rotorua red wood
Rotorua red wood

There are many activities at Rotorua to keep families entertained for 3D2N.
Be it white water rafting, hiking or cycling, too many choices around this area. You are never far from the trees, water and adrenaline (Skydive and zorb too).

b11) Kuirau Park (rated 3/5, GPS -38.133360, 176.243800 )

Since I could not visit Wai O Tapau , this free park was the next best option to see some hot spring “bubbles”. Do not set your expectation high ok.

b12) Hobbiton Movie Set at Matamata (Rated 3.5/5, GPS -39.015607, 175.711357). This attraction is packed with tourists, but no hobbits.

Ok, who does not know Hobbits? Bilbo, Frodo or Sam, where are you?

We learned more about backstage filming and logistics. The hobbit doors at the Shire is only for those under 1.6m :p

My 1.8m frame makes me feels like Gandalf.

b13) Google told me Windows Walk, also known as Crown Mines walk,
(GPS -37.422875, 175.721483) is highly recommended. (rated 4/5)

Windows Walk NZ
Windows Walk NZ

This area is a decommissioned gold mine in Karangahake Gorge area. It got the Indiana Jones feel, and the “cliff windows” give you a peep into the amazing valley-like pictures.

Highly recommended if you adore nature (in case you are cycling, park your bikes before the trail)

C)NZ is perfect for adventures & self discovery

There are trails from Beginners to Advanced stages. I had planned for 3 hikes and 2 cycling trips, too ambitious :p

I fell in love with the various hiking trails (Kiwi call hiking Tramping).

Did you know NZ does not has and venomous snakes and spiders, nor bears or crocodiles to hunt humans. HOORAY 🙂

Old Coach road (2 hours)

c1) Do take note of the different fitness benchmark between Kiwis and Singaporeans. Kiwis grade their hikes and bike trails from 1 to 5 (5 is Expert level maybe requiring 3D2N). My 2 hours “Old Coach road” was considered Level 1 “easiest”. I thought it felt like Level 2 or 3 (Intermediate). (rated 5/5 for sheer fun)

There are a lot of gravel trails, and at least 2 super steep slopes.
However down slope on gravel-stone paths are more dangerous than uphill. Sudden hard braking might make you lose control of bike.

I was over-confident in the initial stage, going down slope on a narrow zig-zag trail, braked too hard and fell hard (thanks for helmet protection, YouTube video link here).

“So much for Level 1 beginner trail :p “

By the way, your outdoor itinerary should pack for both dry and wet conditions. NZ weather is highly unpredictable.

Photo below. Left(2 hours cycling) and Right(Pinnacles hike).

c2) I did a 4 hours trail at Tongariro National Park too. Besides the famous Tongariro Alpine crossing (19km), there are plenty of smaller trails and waterfalls to explore. (Rated 4/5 mini hikes)

Like Tawhai Falls aka Gollum’s Pond. This is the same Gollum from LOTR. Or you can attempt Taranaki Falls trails. There are three tracks from Whakapapa village(3paths). I thought it felt like a mini Tongariro Alpine hike. Many waterfalls can be found around this area.

C3) Solo driving was part of the Fun. Getting lost on New Zealand road trip, driving on roads for up to 30km without any signboards or human contact. You keep wondering whether you miss a junction, no thanks to patchy GPS.

Forgotten World Highway (Highway 43) was still the fastest route from Egmont (Mount Taranaki) to Tongariro National Park. With a name like Forgotten, you can expect a scenic and quiet drive.

Few cars trespassed this route, and there are plenty of gravel pavements and potholes (pity my poor Toyota rental car). I heard some folks purposely take 2 days to enjoy the “ulu” nostalgic route, including a home-stay.

鸟不生蛋, this road and towns are pretty deserted, but there are still gems to discover (like some old cowboy towns, tunnels or lavender farm)

Do take note this Forgotten highway is 150km long, and is known for accidents.

Forgotten World Highway photos
Forgotten World Highway photos

C4) Besides the adventures, I enjoyed the ME time. When you travel alone, you do not need to worry about kids food and stuff 🙂

It was up to me to decide what to do next. I can have plan A, B ,C etc no rush.

c5) Photo below, booking your mountain hut stay. iSite (Information sites) are New Zealand Tourism offices.

NZ Isite
NZ Isite

Grab your maps, get friendly advice and souvenirs, or book your accommodations and services.

NZ white chocolate
NZ white chocolate

Talking about souvenirs, Chocolates and Manuka are popular. My kids love Whittaker  white chocolate, each bar is only around $4 or $5 NZD.   (Easily available from Countdown supermarket)

Leaving you with more photos from some of my best hikes 🙂

Pinnacles (blog, rated 5/5) for the best sunrise and Sunset in North Island.

Amazing Tongariro Alpine Crossing (blog, rated 5/5) in 7 hours. Moon-like surface.

Additional Tips:

-NZ only has Uber and no Grab
-You do not need much cash in NZ, 99% of my transactions were covered with credit card (I only brought 200 NZD cash for 12 days)

-Plenty of food options. meals at cafe would be from NZD15 + . Although pricier, the food portion can feed two (or 1.5 pax). my cafe experience (from Google reviews) were all splendid. Good food, best coffee and friendly staff.

-NZ hostels start from NZD $25 per night

-North or South island? Those who have been to both all recommend South Island. Scenic spots, unspoiled nature, glacier views, but you would not be disappointed with North Island.

Always have Plan B. Differentiate Must-See and Nice-to-See, I had to drop a few spots due to lack of time.

-Being connected is important in New Zealand. For GPS, contact points (in case we go missing), and searching for cafes. Ok, updating our social media too.

I used Starhub’s 30 day 3Gb for 18. (M1 has a similar solution but rate is more expensive. Normal wifi router is more expensive in NZ)

-If you love stars gazing, be prepared for milky ways all around! If you are lucky, you can even spot Aurora in some remote spots off South Island!

Grab this app “Star Chart” to identify the stars.

 

I only had 6D5N and I chose mostly nature attractions. Refer to the map above, I drove 1500 km on the round trip. My plan was to cover 3 hikes, 2 cycle trails, 3 waterfalls, and one kiwi sanctuary :p

I would recommend minimum 7 days each for North and South Island. Would be ideal to have a co-driver, it can be tiring and boring to drive alone.

NZ hiking photos
NZ hiking photos

Do click on album below for more photos on our Fanpage(link).

Other New Zealand posts:

Hike up Pinnacles and staying in a hut
Crossing unreal Tonggariro Alpine in Summer
Cycling Old Coach Road, freedom and exploration

If you need more tips for your New Zealand road Trip planning or Self Drive tips, do refer to our Google map itinerary link and drop us a note.

No matter how you plan your NZ Itinerary, you will only bring back fond memories from this beautiful lands.

Video from our Facebook : There is some snippets of Sunset and Sunrise at the Pinnacles

Amazing Tongariro Crossing, NZ’s best day hike

Hiking Tongariro Crossing was an amazing experience. The trail covers various terrains, hikers will trek in between two live volcanoes.

And of course we are talking about MORDOR and Mount Doom from LOTR!

It takes a while to sink in, you have seen the pictures in blogs and Instagram, and now Tongariro Crossing is right infront of you.

The day before, I had arrived in National Park (drove from Taranaki and Forgotten Highway). You know Tongariro is special when you can see Mount Doom (real name is Mount Ngauruhoe) and Mount Ruapehu (snow cap) around every corner!

As a warm up, I did both Gollum Pool (Yes, The Gollum from LOTR, also known as Tawhai Falls) and Taranaki Falls , but I will blog about these trips later.

Famous Volcanoes in Tongariro National Park

Before you start, do your homework :

-The start and end point is different for Tongariro Alpine Crossing
-Do not drive as carpark has 4 hours restriction, instead book a return transfer service (coach)

Most hikers start from Mangatepopo, Soda Spring, Red Crater, Emerald Lakes, and end at Ketetahi  carpark

Image from kitchen of “Plateau Lodge”

-There are toilets every hour (or so), bring own toilet paper

-Although some claimed Tongariro Crossing is suitable for all fitness, it is relatively tough. Imagine 7 to 9 hours of walking and climbing with a backpack. (It will be worse with incremental weather and in Winter).

-Wear proper shoe, Tongariro is mountain hiking. You need the grip and ankle protection

-Rain is very common, DOC video indicates 200 days of rainfall per year!

*It was Summer but temperature was still a cool 5 to 15 degrees. I got 3 layers top, and 2 layers bottom

-Research this DOC (Department of Conservation) video (link)
(At 3 minutes 56 seconds, Devil’s Staircase !)

Be Prepared (this blog post is only a short summary, read more about layering, nutrition, first aid kit, and hiking safety tips etc)

1)Mangatepopo Road End (Trailhead
GPS -39.144511, 175.580958)

Back to Tongariro Crossing. Trampers will most likely arrived by coaches. As mentioned earlier, the start and end point is different, and Mangatepopo  carpark has a 4 hours restriction (this carpark is also 1000m above sea level).

You can book the return transfer service through your accomodation or vendors, pricing starting from NZD $40. First coach can be 0530 from your resort.

The signboards provide a Final reminder about the climate and conditions ahead.

You should know how to layer up (example base polyester layer ) before attempting long cold trails. Otherwise internal perspiration might risk hypothermia. (I got to know that for every 10kmh Wind speed, we need to subtract 2 degrees!)

It is Summer, but temperature can still drop to 5 degrees at the alpine ridges (Use METservice app)

Take note of Tongariro Crossing milestones
-It is all uphill after Soda Springs(4km)
-Red crater is the highest point
-After Emerald (and Blue) lakes, you still have 9 or 10km of downhill trail
-The last few kilometers are downhill, take care of your knees

Tongariro Crossing Terrain

You have research and seen all the epic adventures online. Now go and own the 19.4km adventure 🙂

*Do take note the photos might not be in sequence.

Tips. You can hike alone or with a group. Just tag along someone around your own fitness.  Conversations make time pass faster and delay fatigue.

I had hike during summer, and there must be at least 500 trampers (hikers) along the trail!

Follow the well marked paths and boardwalk. If you hike during Summer, the extra hours of daylight will allow you more time to complete the course (and photos)

Just follow the folks infront, it is very hard to get lost during Summer.

Tongariro Crossing
Tongariro Crossing

During harsh weather (or winter), look out for the orange triangle markers.

If in doubt, always head in the direction of Tongariro Alpine Crossing or Ketetahi Carpark (unless you are making an U-turn).

As you hike, look left and right at the scrubs and volcanic rocks. Love the plots of flower beds, I can imagine an explosion of flowers (and colours) along the mountain slopes in Spring.

The horizon looks interesting too as you see the mist and cloud rolling over the ridges.

Along the trail, we will walk between Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe. (Fyi, there are three volcanoes in Tongariro National Park, the 3rd one is Mount Ruapehu)

Tongariro Crossing makes us humans appear so small among the volcanoes!  Truly an awesome experience.

Photo below is South Crater, the path between both volcanoes. It does look like moon walk climate.

Uphills downhills, rocks and different terrain.

Interesting volcano rocks and ashes, flowers still bloom in this hostile environment.

2)Soda Spring

It took me an hour to reach Soda Spring (from the start point).

At about the 4km marker (Soda Spring), a Blue sign ask you to assess your readiness. If you are already struggling at this stage, the slopes ahead will only get tougher.

By the way, you should take a side track to visit Soda Spring. I thought this was a detour and skip. This is the mini waterfall which you can expect.

Devil’s Staircase is next. No one is counting the steps, but you will be climbing 400m + to reach the ridge. I regret not doing enough stairs training back home!

I was panting all the way up and must have stopped at least 10 times! There are no shelters from the elements and the gusty wind kept snapping at you.

Take note you are climbing between 1500 to 2000m, do rest frequently to catch your breath.

Reminder. Unless you are super fit, you do not need to lug your heavy DSLR and tripod through Mordor.

As a gauge, it took me 3 hours plus to reach Red Crater from Mangatepopo Hut. (Do google for DOC Huts if you plan to stay overnight in the outdoors, or read my Pinnacles Hut experience).

Climate is a cold 5 to 10 degrees, yet I was still perspiring. Very often, I was so happy to reach the top, only to see another peak ahead haha.

As you walk along the valleys, you can see a stream of hikers going up the volcano trails ahead. Once you leave the valleys, you are exposed to the elements.

I remembered this section as it was near to Red Crater, and I WAS SHRIVELING from the Cold! I got three top layers, yet I felt cold.

As I got tired from the climb, I kept finding shelters behind the rocks.

Some plateau feels like the middle of a desert, others look like craters on a moon. The surrounding is so unreal.

3)Red Crater

It took me 2hr 20minutes from Soda Spring to Red Crater. Infact, the most difficult section for most hikers would be between 4km to 8km.

We know Red Crater is the highest point of Tongariro Crossing. Yet I did not realised I had arrived,  I was just happy to overcome another peak.

Many others were taking photos of the track we had covered “below or behind”. Photo below is mesmerising as it felt like we just crawled out of the volcano crater.

Harsh climate

Beautiful ridge and scenery. You can see nearby mountain ranges from the peak. On a clear day, we are supposed to see Mount Taranaki 200km to the West.

Then Red Crater just appear infront of me. YES, I have conquered the hardest part of Tongariro Crossing.

Continue 5 minutes on the ridge and WOW! We will see Blue Lake before the Emerald Lakes.

4)Emerald Lakes (GPS “lookout”
-39.134331, 175.652704 )

These are three glacier lakes next to Red Crater. The water sparkled under the sun. Green, Blue in different tones, the lakes are the highlights of Tongariro Crossing.

Here I am, in the middle of Tongariro Crossing, a live volcano.
And three beautiful lakes welcome the trampers.

DOC (Department of Conservation) indicates that these water bodies are sacred to the Maori.Please do not disturb the water.

Top-left : Trail leads to Blue Lake

To get a close up look, everyone need to “glide or slip” down the slopes haha. It is mostly volcano ash and I fell on my bum twice. My walking sticks and hiking boots could not defy gravity.

I would not recommend you to run down as some rocks are sharp and you might fall and cut yourself badly.

Once you are downstairs, you can giggle at the balancing trampers as they negotiate a path downhill.

The sulphur smell is strong around this area. The rock crevices and vents are emitting pungent volcanic fumes. You can place your hand near the vents to feel the warmth.

If lava should spew out, we better run for our lives (is it possible to escape?)

Emerald Lakes is easily the most photogenic spots for selfies along Tongariro Crossing. I must have spent 30 minutes absorbing the panoramic view.

Some folks will take their lunch at Emerald Lakes.

Photo above, I am not exaggerating when I mentioned Summer hikers can swell up to 500!

You can still get photo-bombed at 1800m, 19.4km is not so grueling after all hee hee.

5a)Checkpoint (Signboard)

You will come across a Signboard (directional) marker after the Lakes.

Congrats, you have conquered 9 or 10km of Tongariro Crossing. The worst (and coldest) part is behind you.

There are more down-slopes then up-slopes infront (yes, we still have a few up-slopes).

BUT there are still 10km (2.5 hours) ahead of us. Remember the return bus timing? This is the junction where you estimate whether you can catch your preferred bus-shuttle timing

Tips. Walking 1km on flat road is very different from the rough Alpine terrain. Very often, I underestimated the amount of time (and efforts!) needed to track across Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

We would have covered 4 or 5 hours already to reach this point, most would show signs of fatigue after the “Lakes adrenaline” wore off.

I needed a short break again. Gentle reminder, please always keep yourself well hydrated.

TIPS. You can actually browse the “hotspots” or 360 degrees view along Tongariro Crossing from Google Map‘s street view. Try to spot Sam and Frodo’s Mount Doom covered in SNOW!

6)Blue Lake (GPS -39.123961, 175.660667)

Follow the trail behind Emerald lakes to reach Blue Lake. It took me about 20 minute to walk from Emerald Lakes to Blue Lake.

At the peak, look back and witness the trampers cutting across the valley.

Below photo is one of my favourite, it captured two volcanoes top-right. Mount Tongariro infront and Mount Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom) behind.

(You can actually take a side road to hike up Mount Doom too, return trip would be 3 or 4 hours.)

Blue lake is the largest on Mount Tongariro and it does resemble a swimming pool! If only this lake is not sacred or acidic, I would not mind taking a dip.

Tips. Toilets are readily available along the trail, every 1 or 2 hours. Fyi, outdoor toilets in New Zealand (or campsites) are “long drops”. Just a pit at the bottom, bring your own toilet paper.

Imagine, hiking to the ridge, and you suddenly see a queue! I do wonder who (and how) the waste are cleared though. 

In New Zealand, hikers do not have a habit of peeing next to trails as Kiwis do not want to introduce human traces to nature.

Following on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing trail, we will now head towards another lake (Is this Lake Rotoaira?)

But I love the alpine views of mountain, slopes and lake in the background. New Zealand is such a pretty country, blessed with so much nature.

Endless zig-zag down the slope! But I would still prefer these over the uphill steps. These final trails cannot be rushed, follow the road-sign for a good time effort estimation. (example 30minutes for 2km walk)

As an estimate, you will pass by a hut about 1 to 1.5hours from Blue Lake.

Scenic Tongariro Crossing
Scenic Tongariro Crossing

7)Keketaha Hut (or shelter)

Google told me this hut is closed after volcano activities threw some huge rocks onto the hut! (GPS -39.107961, 175.653026 ). Fortunately, no one was hurt.

Bush trail for the last kilometres. We are walking on paths carved out from the side of the mountain.

There would be a forest walk before the end point. Do pop by Ketetahi waterfall if time permits.

8)Ketetahi Carpark (-39.073402, 175.663963)

Finally, the end point after 7 hours! You can hike Tongariro Crossing from this end too, but it is much easier from Mangatepopo.

Tips. When you book your transfer, remember the bus company name and “return” schedules. Tired trampers waiting for their buses.

Tongariro Crossing bus pickup
Tongariro Crossing bus pickup

9)Plateau Lodge (GPS -39.171711, 175.399902)

Hot Spa waiting for me at my budget accommodation 🙂
I book this resort through Booking.com , 4 to a room (bunks) and daily rate NZD $25.

There are many accommodations at National Park (Village), this location is just 20 30 minutes away from Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

Remember to greet fellow hikers, we are all hiking to enjoy the nature and company. The memories from Mordor will stay with me for a long time 🙂

Additional points:

*My Tongariro Alpine Crossing Video (YouTube link)

** Tongariro Alpine Crossing photos on our Fanpage

Tongariro Crossing photos
Tongariro Crossing photos

** You can see some splendid Spring snow-cap landscapes from Erika’s blog (another blog here url)

-I book my trip through My Kiwi Adventure for NZD $40

-Tongariro is one of the best hikes for me, check out Mount Bromo and Kawah Ijen too (Indonesia) too Blog link.

-There are more trekking routes around Tongariro, click for BackpackersGuide NZ

-More hiking tips at DOC website (Department of Conservation)
-Checkout some useful hiking videos from NZ Mountain safety Council too

-Lunch was Kit Kat, apples, banana and easy snacks (I would be too tired to have a proper meal)

-You may get more GPS from our NZ Itinerary (eg GPS for Gollums Pool
Taranaki falls)

-Follow my Instagram #SengkangBabiesNZ for more photos

 

ps..
-do visit our Tongariro Alpine Crossing blog post too (my best hike in NZ!) -Our NZ road trip itinerary
-Hike Pinnacles Hut  (Coromandel) for the best Sunset and Sunrise on the last day. Read Pinnacles blog