New Zealand is known for its natural beauty. After exploring the Northland, Chris and I were in awe of all of the beautiful sights that we had seen over the course of our hiking, driving, and camping, but nothing would compare to our visit to Tongariro National Park.
We arrived at our campsite in the Tongariro National Park fairly late one evening after a full day of driving. Up until this point, our campsites usually featured running water, non flush toilets, and a cold shower, which was usually more than enough for us eager travelers. We were in for quite a surprise when we pulled up to the campsite to find that the site itself was powered and the facilities had hot showers, full kitchen access, laundry facilities, and even a general store.
We were in campervan heaven!
Our camper was equipped with a gas stove, but cooking and clean up had always been difficult with limited essentials. Now we had a full range of kitchen appliances at our disposal and were able to get a hot shower (a luxury that we had not had since starting the excursion).
The following morning, we booked our trip to complete the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. It is a MUST DO in the North Island. When we awoke that morning to take the shuttle to the start, visibility was less than stellar and weather reports showed that it may worsen throughout the day. Thankfully, the shuttle service offered us the opportunity to delay our start until the following morning when weather was reported to be a bit clearer (which it was- and would be the first of many great decisions throughout the trip).
With our day now free to explore, we decided to do a six hour hike to Tama Lakes which was highly recommended by campsite employees. We didn’t know what to expect but were extremely impressed throughout the hike. It is a perfect prerequisite adventure to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
Our first encounter: a massive waterfall.
Pretty impressive, I must say. The hike continues allowing views from the top of the waterfalls which is equally as stunning.
As the hike continued, we went through a few hours of trail walking through lowland bush areas. It was a lot of the same scenery for quite a bit of time, which was nothing to complain about…
After a few hours of trekking, you then arrive at the Lower Lake of Tama Lakes. It is absolutely stunning and located in what seems like the middle of nowhere. Further up the mountain you can see the Upper Lake as well. Water melts down from the tops of surrounding mountains in Tongariro National Park to create the two lakes and they are remarkable. Even with overcast weather, the views were stunning.
We had no idea how physically demanding the hike would be, which made getting to the top of the mountain even better. The views were amazing, but (honestly) Busch league compared to what we had in store the next day for the Alpine Crossing.