It is going towards winter here in NZ which apparently means a lot of rain…But I really wanted to do the TAC. I really wanted to see the beautiful sights of one of New Zealand’s best day hikes! And I really wanted to have the sense of accomplishment that would come from walking through Mordor!
But as Boromir said in the Lord of the Rings. “One does not simply walk into Mordor”
The shuttle bus came to pick me up at my hostel at 6 am. The weather was supposed to be cloudy for the day with occasional light rain. Well it started raining even before the shuttle bus arrived.
Luckily I was prepared and brought two ponchos, an umbrella and many warm layers of clothing.
By shuttle bus it takes 1 hour and 30 minutes to get from Taupo to Tongariro, and things were not looking good. The closer we got the harder it rained and a dense fog was covering everything! Plus it was so cold too.
But I had come this far and the bus driver reassured us that the weather was supposed to clear up later. Since it was raining harder than I anticipated I decided to rent some waterproof pants from the shuttle bus service.
Helpful note, you can rent hiking shoes, jackets, waterproof clothes and hiking sticks? From the shuttle bus. The pants cost me $10 for the day.
Since I had already come this far I decided to hope for the best and started my hike at 8:15am.
I wore both my raincoats and the pants I rented, and I was nice and dry at first but as I walked further and further the rain just got stronger and stronger. And the wind blew crazy from all sides. And the fog….you couldn’t see anything with that fog!
Before long I was soaked from head to toe. Everything I had was wet, my shoes, even those pants I rented were soaking wet! what use was renting it if it got wet anyways!?
I made it a little past 6Km in those conditions…but by then my regret for coming was starting to grow bigger than my determination to go on. I was all wet, it was -2 degrees, my hands were so cold I couldn’t feel them, and I couldn’t even take pictures or enjoy the views because of the damn fog!
All I could think was “I shouldn’t have come!” But I hated the thought of giving up…so I kept on going until I reached the mountain climb to get to the South crater and I almost fell over because the stairs were so narrow and the wind almost knocked me over….yeah, I decided I didn’t want to die in the mountains alone so I turned back.
By the time I decided to turn back I had already walked over 6 Km which meant the way back was torturously long! With rain getting worse and worse. Of course.
When I finally reached the car parking lot I found most everyone who tried to cross had turned back and were now waiting for their shuttle buses to pick them up.
I had to wait over 1 hour for my shuttle bus to arrive, and it felt like forever. I was so cold and so soaked. I couldn’t keep warm! It was a nightmare. Everyone was the same though so when the buses finally arrived we all ran to them trying to get in! Survival instincts kicked in and we all pushed and pulled our way into the buses!
When I finally got to Taupo it was already past 3pm and so I checked into Finns Global Backpackers. Not the best of places to lift your mood….
I was feeling like crap and wanted nothing but to get out of this town ASAP. I was ready to book a shuttle back to Auckland when I got a text from a girl I had met at my hostel the night before and we agreed to meet for dinner.
A fancy dinner with some company was just what I needed to lift my spirits. Travelling alone is freedom and fun but sometimes when things get a little hard it can get lonely and tiring so her company (or the pork ribs) really gave me the strength to keep going with my travels in Taupo.
If you get the chance, Lone Star's pork ribs were so good, so good! I'm craving them as I write this...