I awoke from my slumber in Taupo to a chilly, cloudy, rainy morning. As I peered out the hostel window, I could barely see across the lake to the volcanoes I was hoping to climb.

The Tongariro National Park is a World Heritage site, and home to New Zealand’s #1 day hike (tramp) - The Tongariro Crossing. It’s an 11-mile (18km) hike between two active volcanoes, one of them being the infamous Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings fame (actual name = Mt Ngauruhoe).

I knew I could do the hike, however the numbers were a bit imposing. 11 miles up the side of a volcano, topping out at 5,700 vertical feet, which was far higher than I’d been before. The average time for the hike was 6-7 hours. I packed 2 liters of water, nuts, plenty of chocolate (for fast energy), granola bars, jerky, and a fresh chicken satay sandwich.

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  • David Lee

    In late 2007, I quit my job and left the comfortable life in the USA for the open road with nothing but a 20-pound backpack, a …

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