‘In autumn 2000, Tongariro National Park was home to the most sinister
of the Lord of the Rings locations, Mordor,
which is the strong hold of the dark Lord Sauron’ – Tongariro Crossing Official Page
I’ll be perfectly honest, when I first made the decision to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, I had no idea of its connection to LotR. I mean yeah, I love the series, but I don’t intentionally set out to visit each filming location (I promise!). Still, to say I have hiked through Mordor is pretty damn cool.
Anyway, the reason I actually decided to do the crossing was to challenge myself. When I was still back at school I was able to complete the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award from Bronze through to Gold, but had really fallen off the wagon since then. So I thought, what better than to try and complete a 19.4km hike through volcanic terrain approaching the peak of the southern hemisphere’s summer?
I’m not going to lie, physically I was in no way, shape or form prepared for this. But, then again, I wasn’t alone in that, so it isn’t an excuse. It isn’t a walk in the park either, despite what some people may think. It takes – on average – six to eight hours to complete, and there is no place to stop off for water/food etc during the hike, so you need to ensure you are well prepared when you start off. Toilets are also few and far between, whilst the terrain during the first two-thirds of the walk is anything but stable. Then again, what else would you expect from a place that was considered as the perfect setting for Mordor?
It’s tough going, it really is. With sections of the walk named “Devil’s Staircase” and “Devils Ridge”, it isn’t much of a surprise either. I guess that is what makes finishing it that much sweeter.
It wasn’t without additional trials though. Mainly cuts, bruises, more cuts, running out of water and the worse sunburn I have ever had to deal with. All in a days walk really. Wanted to die afterwards of course, but went out drinking instead. Followed that by rocking back and forth the next day dealing with aches and pains in places that I had forgotten had existed.
It’s amazing to think that this is something I have accomplished. It undoubtedly ranks up their as one of the best achievements of my life – and even that might eventually be classed as an understatement one day.
To see my complete bucket list, click here