I am in Wellington, New Zealand at this time being.
Accompanying my daughter for her first-year University registration here in the city. Spent 2 weeks here with her, exploring the city and its surroundings while at the same time trying to make her comfortable with this new place where she would call her second home for the next 3 years.
Being a green brain, I got bored with CITY easily. Flipped through the “Free guide to NZ” Arrival magazine that I took from the airport, the turquoise colour of an acid lake in South Crater valley of Tongariro National Park caught my attention. But … naaaah! 8-hours walk of a total 19.4km would kill me instantly … so I think.
Then … I got really bored and kept thinking of that National Park.
The view of the mountains – Mt. Tongariro 1967m, Mt. Ngauruhoe 2291m (Mt Doom in the Lord of the Rings filming locations) and Mt. Ruapehu 2797m – make me more curious and I can’t hold it anymore and I purchased my Intercity bus ticket from Wellington to National Park station for the next day trip. And booked my 2 nights stay at YHA hostel, National Park.
I said to myself … fine, I just have a look at the park and walk around the easiest trail while enjoying my favourite thing to do when I am alone, breath in and breath out the air of freedom – the mountain fresh air, hmmm nice – it feels like home, comfortable.
I don’t mind travel alone as I don’t have the urge to talk or even binge talk to anyone because most of the time my mind is always fully occupied with my own thoughts and imagination. I tend to forget about my surroundings too.
New Zealanders are super cool and very helpful too.
My first time in NZ … ohh I love New Zealanders as they treated me more as a co-human than as a strange Muslim lady with a head covered wandering loose alone.
The weather was not very good on the day that I arrived at the National Park.
Raining with thick fogs surrounding the valleys. While contemplating either I want to do the crossing or just hang around, a group of people popped into the hostel front desk returning their gears. They just did the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in the rain and the thick fogs … and with their red and cheerful face even when they were soaking wet.
Damn it … I said to myself.
And this guy from Thailand with a wide happy eye just bluntly tell me … hey! have you done the crossing? If you haven’t, you better just do it … even if the weather is like this, it would be worth every single second.
And guess what … I paid the 40 NZ dollars for the National Park return transportation and rented a waterproof boot, a walking pole and a raincoat. I fixed my mind … I am all in for this. Just like that.
I need to see what the havoc is all about. Well … well … well … bare in mind that I hate trekking, I am not well trained and I am not even sure which box to tick in as Lucy, the front desk lady passed me a form to fill in … which level of mountain trekker am I? should I tick the beginner box?
As I am not even a beginner lol coz I am the type of person if given a choice where to park my car at the shopping mall … I would always choose the one very very very near to the entrance door.
Well … done with that. Lucy asked me … what makes me decide to do this? And I said “hmmm, I just wanna get over this. This curiosity bugs me” and she laughed.
Omg … It was a beautiful sight as I first stepped in the Mangatepopo car park but as I looked at the signboard (above) I got really scared. “Urghh I am so gonna die,” I told myself lol.
Overall from the opptimistic point of view, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is worth every second of the 8 hours walk despite the thick fog and the occasional rain. I managed to click a few photos with my iPhone while struggling to keep up with the trails.
As I continue for another 11.3 km trails to Ketetahi Carpak the weather started getting irritated. The fogs thicken, the temperature started to drop further down (9-12 degree) as the raindrops started to clouds my glasses.
Omg, I was standing on a narrow trail between 2 very steep craters while my feet were shaken due to lack of sugar aka energy and my glasses was clouded. The sulfur smell filled the air. The air was super foggy, truly looked like from a sci-fi movie this place is.
I was tired … near to the point of ‘I want to give up’ mode. I kept reminding myself that if I quit in the middle of the trail, I have to pay NZ500. The cost to rescue you out of this place. But this place even in its worst weather is uniquely beautiful and I couldn’t help wondering to myself, how would this place look like if the weather is beautiful?
It was all foggy and raining the whole journey down towards the carpark and I didn’t take many photos as I was super-super exhausted. This trail is not for beginners but maybe for intermediate trekkers. You need to be well prepared if you decided to do the crossing. It was so hard for me and I still have sore muscles all over my body now (after 3 days).
I cried at the very last 6.3km, as my feet could not take it anymore.
I discovered how does it feels when you are too damn tired but you still need to go on. I discovered that I am mentally strong even when I am alone. I discovered the feeling of helplessness when my feet were out of its physical strength but with my will to go on and survive, I ended up winning.
Other trekkers passed by me one after another leaving me alone struggling with my incapabilities. I discovered how sad it is to be left behind. Oh and I really hate that feeling of being left behind, it is lonely … but I kept my chin up and walk slowly imagining myself doing a brisk walk at my most favourite park.
Would I do this again?
Minus all my self-discovery moments, weirdly I would say yes.
I am not done yet with this place. I definitely would do this again maybe in December when summer is here. I want to capture the beautiful landscape of this place in its most beautiful setting but I am gonna make sure that my body is fit enough to do this … so that I could see more and enjoy more of this place.
Feb 28, 2018. I walk the 19.4km Tongariro Alpine Crossing on my own in 6 hours. I took 37,000 steps that day equivalent to climbing 139 floors. My first time. I survived with a 3-days worth body muscle ache but feeling alive and spiritually nourished. I am glad I decided to give it a try … to push myself to exceed my limit.
That night I had the worst sore muscle ever. Sooth my body with some boiled eggs and a litre of protein (fresh milk). I hit my bed early at 9pm while listening to my best friend’s voice on the phone, soothing me down with his calm voice. He thinks that I am crazy but I assured him that at least I didn’t die.
I took the next day bus to Wellington with a victory and a bliss feeling. Alhamdullilah.
I plan to explore more of NZ during these 3 years, taking it slowly and meaningfully. Learning to improve me … while inspiring my children and people around me to do more in life than just merely living. Anybody can do this. Just do it, no excuses, please.
Excuses are just for the weaklings, and I am not!
Bye for now
New Zealand: Tongariro National Park February 27th to March 1st, 2018