Today we are hiking the Tongariro Crossing, except we are not "crossing" which is a 1 way hike. We can't do the whole hike because the volcano erupted in November 2012, so we will hike half way, and then turn around & hike back to the beginning. We got up at 5 a.m., met our shuttle at 5:50 a.m., and got a ride to the beginning of the hike. We are above tree line here, but I'm not sure of the elevation, possibly about 4000'. We hike up the valley, and then really start climbing. There are many steps on the trail to avoid erosion. We pass several volcanoes that have a habit of erupting every 10 years or so. They thought one of them would go when Tongariro went in November, but it seems to be okay (good for us!).
It was very cold when we started (7:15 am), but warmed during the day. Barb had some problems with her knee, which was still hurting from the beach hike, and she stopped and enjoyed the scenery. I pushed on to the halfway point and was rewarded with a great view of the lakes. Hiking there reminded me of hiking on Kilimanjaro because of the volcanic sand, colored rocks,fumaroles.
The plan was to meet the bus at 1:30 p.m., so I needed to hurry to get back. We had quite a drive to get to our next campsite/lodging. Unfortunately, we had to pull into a police weighing station, and we were overweight. It was no big surprise to me. The bus was nearly full of people, our daypacks & luggage, and they haul a trailer with bicycles, tent,sleeping pads, food, and the cooking equipment. The policeman wouldn't let us continue till we lightened the load.
We went back to the nearest town and 15 people had to take a public bus (paid for by Flying Kiwi). We drove to the beach on the west side of the North Island to our campsite/lodging in Otaki, and they gave everyone a free upgrade to a room for the hassle. However, this was the smallest room we had over the entire trip. Four of us in a small room with bunkbeds & we were tripping over each other's suitcases.
The police situation was an interesting event!!! Wonder how they will take care of things tomorrow?