On the other end of the trip, right before we left and all the way on the other side of the country, we hiked the Tongariro Alpine Crossing — better known as Mount Doom. It is 21 km long, ascends 800 meters, and descends 1200 meters. The ascent is all in 2 absolutely brutal climbs, complete with 40+ km winds and weather systems drifting in and out every few minutes. The first climb takes you halfway up the volcano used to film Mount Doom, after which you walk across a flat saddle and up to the top of it’s twin. The next 4 hours are spent walking downhill to the road. While the climb was tough, 4 hours of constant downhill is really what makes you sore the next day. Certainly the hardest day hike I’ve ever done, but a very nice one. It’s one of the most popular walks in New Zealand, and for good reason.
I snapped this particular shot while stopping to catch our breath on the way up the first, and worst, ascent. The group pictured was walking across a small, flat traverse before climbing through the clouds.