After Rotorua I had to make a last minute decision as to where I wanted to go next. I was supposed to stay with a friend in Napier but she was sick so I had to change my plans a bit. For me, my choices were either going to Tauranga, Palmerston North or Tongariro National Park. My gut instinct was pulling me towards Tongariro so I went with that.
Getting to Tongariro was a bit complicated. There are no direct bus routes from Rotorua to Tongariro but it seemed the quickest way was from Rotorua to Turangi (two hours) and then to get a shuttle bus from there to National Park (forty minutes). The weather was miserable. It was spilling out of the heavens and I really thought to myself “I’ve picked the wrong time to come here. With this weather, I won’t be able to see any of the volcanic peaks.” Tongariro National Park is home to three active volcanoes – Mt. Ruapehu, Mt. Tongariro and Mt. Ngauruhoe. The last volcano that erupted there was Mt. Ruapehu in 1996. So even though that was a pretty recent event, it didn’t put me off going there.
I decided to stay in National Park Backpackers on Findlay Street. Not that it was difficult to find as the village is quite small. Despite it being small, there are quite a few choices of accommodation in the village but the one I chose had the best rating in the BBH backpackers guidebook. The last time I was in New Zealand, I bought a BBH hostel card which gives you discounts on all of the BBH hostels in the country. The room I was given was lovely. It had a double and single bed in it and I just really liked the feel of it.
We were advised in a lot of guidebooks to bring our own food with us, if we were staying in hostels in Tongariro National Park because there’s a very limited choice of grocery shops there and groceries were also very expensive. So I had brought quite a bit of food with me but needed to top up on a few things. After I’d done that I headed up to the intersection of the road, where there was a café and asked in there if there was any way of getting to Whakapapa Village. I didn’t have a car so I needed to find a way to get to the village, which was closer to the start of the walks but more expensive to stay there. I managed to get a lift, for 10 NZD with a shuttle bus who were going in that direction and I got there at around 1.30pm.