Yesterday, we walked what has been called the best day walk in New Zealand, the Tongariro Crossing.
Initially, we were fairly disappointed, as, after getting up at 4:30, the first few hours of the walk were a low-visibility trudge through low cloud. Our intention had been to motor through the early ascent and reach the South Crater before 9:15, which would give us enough time to attempt Mount Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom from the Lord of the Rings films), and still make the bus back to Taupo. Unfortunately, the cloud was far too thick to think about the very difficult climb, and we reluctantly turned our backs on the (active) volcanoe, and began the crossing of the vast and ghostly South Crater from the foot of Ngauruhoe. at about 9:30, the wind suddenly shredded the clouds from the Tongariro Crossing, and for the first time we got a look at the place. The view of and across the South Crater is absolutely stunning, as is the view from the top of Mount Tongariro, a smaller diversion than Ngauruhoe that we consoled ourselves with; not to mention the fact the fact that the view from the top of Ngauruhoe couldn't be as good as that from Tongariro, because on top of Ngauruhoe is the only place you can't see Ngauruhoe. It dominates the landscape utterly, impressive given the surreal and hellish scenery that surrounds it.
Maybe next time. Still, with its unbelievable alien landscapes, The Tongariro Crossing is by far the best New Zealand walk we have done so far.