A note: I traveled to New Zealand in August 2013, but am writing in present tense so you'll feel like you're right here with me on my solo adventure.
This is my first full day in this amazing national park. After having done a quick drive through of Whakapapa Village the day before, my plan is to park in the visitor parking lot that's central to the visitor center, two eateries and Taranaki Falls Track; grab breakfast; stop at the visitor center for last-minute necessities (the bathroom); then go. All are within easy walking distance.
New Zealand has nine Great Walks. One of them is the world-famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing and Tongariro Northern Circuit located in Tongariro National Park. Mind you, I didn't attempt either of them. My hike, or tramp, for the day is the six-kilometer-long (little less than four miles) Taranaki Falls Walking Track. It's not too long, not too short; it's ju-u-ust right. And it conveniently begins just below the Whakapapa Visitor Center and above the Chateau Tongariro Hotel.
Established in 1887 as New Zealand's first national park, Tongariro is both culturally and spiritually important to the Maori people. It's a designated UNESCO dual World Heritage Area that covers more than 79,000 hectares—that's more than 195,213 acres! As such, the national park is home to at least 30 different walks and tracks in and around the park that cater to all ages, sizes and ability levels; it can take you as quick as 20 minutes or more than a few days. It all depends on what you'd like to experience or have time for.
From this point on, I'll let the pictures do the talking. A LOT of pictures, so hang in there! I do love photography you know! : )
The Taranaki Falls Walking Track has certainly provided one of the most wonderful memories of my New Zealand vacation. I'll always relive the amazing views, hear the bubbling stream and crunch underfoot, and feel the pure, cool air of Tongariro. I walked the entire stretch alone and felt perfectly comfortable, so whether you go solo like me or with a friend or group of friends, just take the proper precautions.
If there's something I've missed or should check out because you've been there, done that, be sure to let me know! I intend to revisit Tongariro down the road and any suggestions would be appreciated.
It's been a while since my last post, but stay with me as I continue my adventure in New Zealand! Sign up for upcoming blog entries and please share if you like this as well. Cheers!