One Does Simply Walk Into Mordor: Day Nine


“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.

tongariroRounding 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.

tongariro holiday park

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.



4 Responses
  1. Ken

    From the sound of the reviews he mainly has trouble with people asking for water or use of facilities, which in some ways is fair enough, it can be a pain. What many places do is set a fee, say $5, and then everyone is usually happy.

    I expect that your companions would have realised they did the sensible thing. The Tongariro crossing with a full backpack is best done without starting with aches and pains.

    1. John Feeney

      Hey Ken, cheers for the comments. At the time I was researching places to stay in the area, some of the reviews were horrible. In fact, there was once instance where the police got involved. I can understand the use of water and facilities, and I agree a charge of $5 makes a whole lot of sense. In our case, we were simply sitting down at a table outside waiting for our room to be available. Despite not using his facilities, he still had an issue.

      With regards to my friends, yeah they made the right call. The whole point of the trip was to hike from Matamata into Tongariro and then summit Ngaurahoe to destroy ‘the One Ring’. Conversely, I had put myself through 12 months of lots of hiking at great distances whilst carrying heavy packs. I also stretched every morning on the trip. I truly believe that both of the above helped me get up every morning and go again for another 25-30kms.

      1. Ken

        Hopefully if I ever go back it will have new owners, because I’m probably never going to be able to afford the Chateau. With two attempts I’ve actually had the perfect day for the crossing part of the Tongariro Circuit. First time it was low cloud and I gave it a miss, and was told that there was nothing to see and it did feel a bit dangerous.

        For anyone who is planning on the walk it is worth spending an extra day or two, allows walking around the waterfalls, some of the beech forest on the other side and lunch in the Chateau and hopefully one day that is fine for the crossing.

        1. John Feeney

          Awesome album you’ve got there, Ken. Apologies for not responding earlier. I usually get a notification but didn’t this time. I agree – if anyone is looking to do the Crossing, spending a few more days to explore the rest of the park is a great idea.

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