“Go back, Sam. I’m going to Mordor alone” – Frodo in Fellowship of the Ring.
And that is exactly what happened on day nine of our trek to the Tongariro Holiday Park. Well, for me anyway.
Nelson’s ankle still wasn’t right, and Matt and Keith’s bodies were pretty sore. Given that day’s hike terrain was going to be fairly relatively tough, they opted to get a ride instead.
I, on the other hand, was feeling pretty good and decided to go it alone into Mordor/the Tongariro National Park.
So, how exactly were the others getting there?
We’d got chatting to the owners of the Tokaanu Lodge Motel the night before and told them what we were up to.
After about 10 minutes of chatting, the husband offered to give us a lift to the Tongariro Holiday Park.
I politely declined, but the others took him up on it and would be picked up at check-out the following morning.
The next morning I got myself ready and out the door by 7:30. That’s the one great thing I like about solo hiking – you get up and go when you want.
The day ahead would be 22kms in total and research told me it was flat for some time until I hit a section of Te Pongo Saddle Road.
From there, it was a 6km gradual incline to the top with some awesome views of Tokaanu and Lake Taupo.
The advantage of the others getting to our destination by car was that they were able to take my tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat, and lighten my pack.
It was such a perfect day for hiking. The sun was out, the breeze was cool and there were very few cars on the road.
After hitting the highest point of the road, and rounding a few corners, there it was – the first sighting of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing off in the distance.
After spending almost nine days on the road, this was absolutely magical.
This is what we had come for and seeing this for the first time made all those kilometres worthwhile. Little did I know it would get even better the following day.
Rounding Lake Rotoaira, the road began to flatten out and from there on in it was flat all the way to the holiday park.
After leaving the Tokaanu Lodge Motel at 7:30 am, I arrived at the Tongariro Holiday Park at 12:15 pm to catch up with the others.
Along the way, the boys and the owner of the motel caught up with me in his ute.
He had taken all three of them on a tour of Tokaanu and gave them a history lesson on the area, which included showing them old New Zealand weapons used in various wars.
After checking out at 10 am, he took them to the local Countdown supermarket to stock up on food, and then took them on their history tour.
With regards to the Tongariro Holiday Park, it’s in an ideal location for the Crossing and the accommodation itself is reasonable.
As it’s the only place to stay in the area outside the Whakapapa Village, you think they’d do their best to be a little more accommodating.
Unfortunately, the owner is a bit of a jerk and had an issue with us sitting on his lawn waiting to check-in.
Add that to a few other unnecessary comments, and that aspect of the holiday park wasn’t such a highlight.
If you can get past the grumpiness of the owner, it’s a good little place to stay at and much cheaper than the Chateau Tongariro in the Whakapapa Village.
Keep in mind, this is just my opinion of the owner. However, there are plenty of reviews that are saying the same thing.
But if you are looking for somewhere relatively cheap to stay when you are planning to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, then I would recommend this place.