In the time between the Bay of Islands and this post, quite a few days elapsed which I have chosen not to document. This is simply because recounting every day of this trip would take me another week of writing, and I've only got a few days of blogging left before I have to leave for Sydney. To quickly summarise, the highlights of these missing days were: surfing in Raglan (a very cool surf town you should really check out if you're in the North Island) and caving at Waitomo caves (glowworms galore).

Anyway, I've chosen to focus on Tongariro Alpine Crossing because this was one of my absolute favourite days in New Zealand, and because I managed to take some really beautiful pictures along the way.

The crossing is a 19.4km hike and a lot of this is uphill. It was, however, absolutely worth being completely out of breath for most of the hike, because the landscape was breathtaking.

I also got to live out another nerdy, Lord of the Rings ambition of mine: climbing Mt Doom.

We were extremely lucky with the weather, we were told that the hike had been called off the last three times the tour operators had attempted it because of bad weather. If it's not an absolutely perfect day it's not possible, given how quickly conditions can change at the top of the volcano.

As you can see from the pictures we couldn't have had a better day for it.

Each section of the hike brought with it something completely different.

I kept having to remind myself that I was still on planet Earth!

We finished the hike in 6 hours - feeling quite pleased with ourselves given that the estimate for completion was 6-8 hours - and headed back to our ski lodge hotel for a well-deserved soak in the hot tub and a very large meal. Bliss.

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