A weekend of contrast – Tongariro

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Only two of us were travelling to the club lodge on a Friday evening, after a small detour we arrived at the lodge. The weather forecast promised us wonderful weather so we decided to book a shuttle for the Tongariro Alpine crossing for the next day. Marieke has not walked this track before and Bram only saw the inside of a cloud last time so we decided to do this famous walk.

We arrived at the shuttle and quickly realised that this was not going to be a tramp as we know, so many people had the same idea as us so the track was quite full. The weather forecast did not lie, we had great views and just when we were on the way back the clouds come in adding some atmosphere and resulting in a stunning scenery (not sure if the people at the red crater or the lakes thought the same about that because they probably had no scenery at that point. Unless the inside of a cloud counts as scenery). The track has some highlights but is definitely not the best walk ever, the amount of people also did not help in that regard. The crossing is not as hard as some of the reviews make you believe, it was a nice day-walk.

The next day John took us into the Tongariro Forest on a six hour plus horse-back trip.  At the start it was just us with our guide John, it was a gentle ride over the road so we were afraid it was going to be boring. John already warned us that experience was required and he did not disappoint us after this gentle ride you needed to focus on what you were doing. We navigated down slippery steep slopes where your best option is just to trust your horse and try not getting into his or her way. The experienced horses walked over big rocks, no nice tramping highway like the crossing of yesterday! At the river we had the opportunity to swim with one of the horses. For Bram the first time and he loved it! The contrast with yesterday could not have been bigger. The scenery, the track as well as the limited amount of people. We realised that we prefer this kind of trips over the tramping highways packed with people. After testing out the speed of our horses during a long canter it was time to go back to Wellington. John and his horses took good care of us and we will definitely be back for a multi-day trek.

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