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Mt. Tongariro = Engagement

NEW ZEALAND | Friday, 24 April 2009 | Views [548]

While most people passing through Whakapapa or National Park stop to do the Tongariro Crossing ("The Best One Day Hike in NZ"), we feel like maybe we got to see a bit more of the park...

By turning the crossing into a 2-day hike and sleeping at Oturere Hut overnight (part of what is called the Northern Circuit), we were able to see the whole crossing as well as some nice attractions that took us off the main track.  The highlights are the crater lakes and the red crater rocks about mid-way through the day walk, but looking in any direction offered amazing views of alpine desert scenery.  On a sunny day it was very cool, but I imagine a grey day would create a bit more of a creepy/desolate atmosphere.  We were lucky to have two days of blue sky and sun.

For us, the best part of the walk was our trip up the summit of Mt. Tongariro where we were the only two around.  The view was amazing so I set the self-timer on the camera to get a shot of the two of us.  It took a couple of tries to get a good one, but Pete asked me to get one more.  I hit the button and ran back to stand next to him, but then he dropped to his knee and proposed!  As he did, the camera got its shot.  Very romantic setting and it made a great picture.  Nice work, Pete.

We completed the walk to the Oturere Hut and celebrated our engagement with 20 strangers.  There was a fire going and it was quite a cozy little hut.  In the morning we woke up to a very frosty landscape and Pete hurried out to get a few pictures of sunrise. 

By 8 am on day 2 we were hiking.  For most of the day we had the track to ourselves, only passing a handful of hikers going in the opposite direction.  Most of the crossing consisted of downhill switchbacks all the way to the carpark.  Once there, Pete and I had hoped to find a ride out of the park (our car was at the hostel about 40 minutes away), but no one was around since it was only 1:00 and most hikers doing the crossing wouldn't finish until 3 or 4.  So out to the road we went to try our luck at hitch hiking.  With no cars in sight we were a bit worried, but the first vehicle to go by offered us a lift.  They were a nice German couple in a campervan and they took us 18 km out of there way to get us back to National Park.

It was basically a flawless tramp through Tongariro and the added bonus of an engagement made it all the more special!

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