Me and my dear friend went a bit crazy and decided last minute to do a road trip to the National Park. We both had quite a bad week and just made up our minds and packed our bags and went for a weekend getaway.
Firstly I have to say that it was fun being spontaneous, but very dangerous at the same time. We didn’t organise, which means we were relying on my GPS on my phone, which died in the middle of the way (her phone was out of battery as well). At the same time I realised we don’t have any gas left and we were in the middle of nowhere – perfect to be eaten by cannibals. Luckily I memorised the route and a little gas station was quickly in our sight. Phieeeww! Lesson learned!
When we arrived to our Lodge it was already midnight. Driving for 5 hours wasn’t an easy task at all. On Saturday we decided to do the almighty Tongariro crossing, I was very sceptic for my friend doing it and when she showed me what kind of shoes she brought with her for the crossing (all star looking sneakers) – I knew, no way we are doing the crossing! So we chose a 17.3km hike to Tama Lakes.
Tama lakes is actually a section of the Tongariro Northen circuit. Starting from Whakapapa village. While your driving to Whakapapa stop and pick up a hitchhiker – it’s always so much fun! We offered a ride to a skater backpacker, German girl, who barely spoke English. Funnily we understood each other perfectly 🙂
It is a 17.3 km walk with only a 592 m of total ascension; not much when you compare to the altitudes of the nearby Mt Ruapehu (2797 m) and Mt Ngauruhoe (2287 m).
The whole track is well marked and gravelled which is always nice during or after bad weather. From Whakapapa village to Taranaki falls, the 2.7 km path is going through sub-alpine tussocks and some old lava flow (“Edge of the lava flow” 2 km from start).
If you take the Taranaki falls loop anticlockwise you will end up actually on the top of the falls; you will be able to admire them on your way back if you decide to complete the loop. From that point you will head off Mt Ngauruhoe (the conical one), walking along a stream between hills. After 1 h 45 min, you will find a signpost indicating Tama lakes or Waihohonu hut.
The lower Tama lake is only at 10 min (one way) from this point; for the upper one it is a longer walk and much more steeper, probably the most exhausting part of this walk. The views from the hill situated between the two lakes are very nice.
You can go a little bit higher to be able to see the two lakes from above. The way down is pretty much the same a part when you reach the Taranaki falls where it is worth to complete the loop (especially if you done half of it anticlockwise) in order to see properly the falls.
It took us about 6 hours with stops. It was just an amazing day! Minus my badly burnt nose and back. Our evening finished up with two bottles of (hidden) wine and Salmon, Baked Kumara dinner. We were in bed at 9pm already, such good girls 😉