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Backpacker Magazine – March 2012

Died and Gone to New Zealand

Hiker heaven, redefined, is a month-long hike/paddle/camp in Adventureland.

by: Jonathan Dorn and Michael Lanza

Whanganui River, North Island (Michael Lanza)
Whanganui River, North Island (Michael Lanza)
Mountain biking in Whakarewarewa Forest, North Island (Katie Herrell)
Mountain biking in Whakarewarewa Forest, North Island (Katie Herrell)
Narnia Track, South Island (Jonathan Dorn)
Narnia Track, South Island (Jonathan Dorn)
Queen Charlotte Track, South Island (Scott Bischke)
Queen Charlotte Track, South Island (Scott Bischke)
Doubtful Sound, South Island (Michael Lanza)
Doubtful Sound, South Island (Michael Lanza)
Rees-Dart Track, South Island (James Kay)
Rees-Dart Track, South Island (James Kay)
Abel Tasman Coast (David Wall)
Abel Tasman Coast (David Wall)

Online Exclusive
View interactive maps of these routes at backpacker.com/nz12.
TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK, NORTH ISLAND
Explore a colorful moonscape in the North Island’s geothermal hotbed.
New Zealand’s first national park is no secret: On clear summer days, hundreds of dayhikers traverse the 12-mile Tongariro Alpine Crossing, where cone-shaped volcanoes tower above old lava flows and electric blue lakes. It’s worthy terrain for shoulder- season trips, when traffic slows to a trickle, but in high season avoid the conga line. Instead, take this 12.1-mile loop that hits the route’s highlights—and bags the summit of two volcanoes. Start on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing Track and follow it across a barren landscape of sharp-edged black rock for three miles, onto the broad saddle between Mt. Tongariro and Mt. Ngaurahoe. There, leave the standard route and turn south for the steep, loose, 2,000-foot, off-trail ascent of 7,516-foot Ngaurahoe—allow three hours out-and-back, and watch for rockfall. The volcano erupted 45 times in the last century, most recently in 1977, and it looks plenty active today: At the rim, explore whistling fumaroles belching out steam, peer down at crater walls wildly colored in black, gray, white, gold, and blood red, and get a view of neighboring volcanoes, including Ruapehu, the North Island’s high point at 9,177 feet. After descending the way you came, cross South Crater and make the 600-foot climb onto the rim of Red Crater, with its sangria-colored rock and view of the glowing Emerald Lakes and Blue Lake. Follow the ridge west over the summit of Tongariro, where you’ll find constant views of Ngaurahoe and other volcanoes. Continue west along the open, trailless ridge; at around 4,400 feet, descend south to cross Mangatepopo Stream and regain the trail back to the parking lot.

Do it Start before 7 a.m. or after 9 a.m.; most day-trippers arrive on buses between 7:30 and 8:30. Fog, mist, and strong winds are common; wait for a forecast of fair weather, with clear skies over the volcanoes in early morning. Campsite Stage your hike from Mangatepopo campground. Info doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/nationalparks/tongariro Cost $




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Reader Rating: -

READERS COMMENTS

Niky
Mar 23, 2012

oh my god...i must go there..it's fantastic...=O

Sara
Feb 27, 2012

Just got back from the south island, and we brought along this artciel to hike the Narnia Track. Initially, when we stopped by Flock Hill, they told us that only guests staying there were allowed to hike it! After some persuading, they agreed to let us do it (we had to fill out permit-like paperwork and keep it with us). While the scenery was gorgeous and we're glad we did it, we got horrible directions on how to do the hike and didn't receive any map. So, we ended up just kind of wandering around the area and after a few hours of walking came across a sign that said "narnia track", but we still weren't really sure where the actual track was. The area is a working ranch, so we kept wandering off on different vehicle tracks, only to have them peter out to nothing in a grassy field. So, we enjoyed the scenery and everything, but it was kind of a confusing wandering kind of a day rather than an actual route.

Honora
Feb 17, 2012

Does it cost anything to hike on Flock Hill station. I'm sure if it doesn't, they're be so thrilled that you've publicised them to this extent.

SuJi
Feb 16, 2012

Better yet...have spent over 6 months there on 2 diffeerent occasions visiting this paradise for hikers....have purchased older (Mitsubishi)vehicles on both occasions and then sold them for exactly what we had paid for them...costing nothing except the insurance and gas

Tony
Feb 16, 2012

The Queen Charlotte is an excellent track which can be walked or mountain biked at certain times of the year. Highly recomended!

Dingo (New Zealand)
Feb 16, 2012

New Zealand certainly has the wow factor when it comes to hiking regardless if you are visiting the North Island or the South Island. It reallly is the outdoor playground of the world.

jacksukow@hotmail.com
Feb 16, 2012

A much better option than 180 dollars a day to rent a camper van
which you will have to pay another fee to park , is to rent a car from
a local rental agency for only $30 a day, and camp or stay at hostels
for ten to sixty dollars per night.

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