The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is said to be the best one-day hike in New Zealand and without having seen the South Island I can already say now that it definitely was!
It took me eight hours to complete the 19 km long trek leading from one side of the Tongariro Narional Park to the other. The walk was not too difficult, only in some parts strenous, but with awesome and constantly changing views: From grasslands, deserted valleys, springs, steam vents to volcanic craters and emerald-coloured lakes.
The most fascinating moment indeed was when I reached the peak of the Red Crater at 1,886 m and took the steep descent to the scenic trio of the Emerald Pools. The lakes’ turquoise colours are owed in part to dissolved minerals that have been washed down from the adjoining thermal area. The earth was warm and the steam vents above the lakes gave off their sulphurous smell.
After having crossed the central crater of the active volcanic area I reached the Blue Lake. From there it was nearly all downhill, right before entering the native green forests rich with bird life.