© Jake Eshelman

24 Hours through Tongariro

In addition to being a Dual World Heritage site, New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park is the country’s oldest national park. It’s a place of incredible significance due to its geopolitical precedence, geological history, unrivaled scenery, and spiritual importance amongst the Maori people.

Geographically, the park spans across the massif of three active volcanoes (Mount Ruapehu, Mount Ngauruhoe, and Mount Tongariro, also known as “Mount Doom” for fellow LOTR dorks), and features an incredible variety of vistas including alpine grass lands, high bogs, solidified lava flows, glacial lakes, and temperate forest. Because of this diversity, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is widely considered to be one of the world’s best day-hikes. Alarmingly however,  the park was renamed in 2007 from “Tongariro Crossing” to “Tongariro Alpine Crossing” following a number of hiking deaths in order to emphasize the potential hazards of the extreme fluctuations in weather and trail conditions. The crossing was closed the day before our hike due to high winds that could carry hikers off the mountainside. Happily, our experience was more manageable.