It's been a walk I've wanted to do for a long time. It takes about 7 hours, and compared with other hikes I've done it would rate in terms of distance and ruggedness. Can't wait. If I like this one I might try the whole northern circuit later on.
I achieved this goal on the 16th April, 2015 - my brother's birthday. Abby (Holland) Marron (Germany) and I were staying in the same room at National Park Backpackers. We had all booked the shuttle from the hostel to Maungatapopo Car park. We were due to leave at 7am but the bus was postponed and eventually cancelled at 8.30am because of winds gusting to 125kms at the summit of Ngauruhoe. The forecast was for the winds to drop so the 3 of us chanced going alone, Marron and I in my car and Abby on her motorbike. We hoped that at least we would reach Red Crater or if we could summit and go down the other side, to get a lift back to the carpark. It was an amazing day, with perfect weather. Hard climbs to South crater and then a steeper climb to Red Crater but I plodded along and the views were well worth the climb. Was only another hour to summit Tongariro but we had left our start too late to do it. Cold and windy at the top but only about 35kms and wind chill of around -9. The snow was lovely and almost gone by the end of the day. We caught another shuttle back to the carpark within 15 mins of arriving at Ketetahi carpark and made it back to Maungatapopo carpark just as the sun was setting. I thoroughly recommend this walk. It was pretty awesome!