Tama Lakes Walk in Tongariro National Park
One of the most amazing hikes I have done in New Zealand is at Tongoriro National Park. Even though the most famous walk in the national park is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, the Tama lakes walk is equally beautiful and has spectacular landscapes throughout.
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About Tongariro National Park
Tongariro National Park is the oldest national park in the North Island of New Zealand, which was formed in the year 1894. The national park has active volcanic mountains – Mount Ruapehu (2797 meters), Mount Ngauruhoe (2291 meters) and Mount Tongariro (1968 meters).
Did you know that Tongariro National Park has dual UNESCO world heritage status? One for its Maori culture and the other for its natural features?
The Tangariro National Park is home for the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a one day hike of 20 kilometres. The national park also has some of the other beautiful one day walks, to name a few, Mount Ngauruhoe summit climb, Mount Ruapehu crater climb, and many more. Complete list of walks can be found on New Zealand’s Department of Conservation website.
About Tama Lakes Walk
The walk that my friend and I did was the Tama Lakes Walk, as we had run out of time to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. It is a 6 hours return walk with medium difficulty level. The end points of the walk are the Lower Tama Lake and the Upper Tama Lake.
Tip: Even in summers, ensure you carry a heavy warm jacket as it can get chilly and windy.
Details of the Tama Lakes walk
There are two paths to reach the lakes:
- First is through the volcanic rocks unformed path and the second is through the waterfalls. We decided to take the first path.
- Second is through the rugged terrains of the national park with volcanic rocks and small streams of water.
Hiking statistics of the first path:
- Total distance: 18 kilometres return.
- Total time taken: 6 hours.
- Grade: Medium.
- Type of hike: Return.
- Starting and ending points: Tongariro National Park visitor centre.
The views that the walk provides is something to die for. We took lots and lots of pictures of the two volcanic mountains: Mount Ruapehu and Mount Ngauruhoe, that are visible throughout the trail.
Tip: Ensure you carry lunch as the walk requires one whole day. My friend is a very good and experienced hiker and she suggested that carrying boiled eggs are a good option.
After about 3 hours, we reached the Lower Tama Lake and the effort of the walk totally paid off. The views of the lake was so refreshing and beautiful.
We then decided to head to the Upper Tama Lake. The walk to the lake was steep and was on the loose gravel mud path, which makes it slippery and difficult. And as people had mentioned to us, Upper Tama Lake was even more spectacular than the Lower Tama Lake.
Since it was getting dark, we decided to head back but the return route that we took was through the waterfalls. The path had few steps and mostly in the bushes.
The sunset along the way was very pretty and colorful. The last 30 minutes of our walk was the highlight of our walk – we walked under the Milky Way and that was the memorable moment of my day.
Tip: Ensure the hiking shoes that you wear are strong and durable, the path is muddy, slippery and wet.
Safety for solo female hikers
New Zealand is one of the safest countries for solo hikers, including the female hikers. People are nice and there are no predators on the islands. Even though we hiked in the dark towards the end of the trail, we were not worried about stepping on any spiders or snakes. It was totally safe.
However, like any other trail in the world, ensure to let someone know about your hiking plans and be careful at night.
In a nutshell, the Tama Lakes walk is one of the best and beautiful walks I have ever done. The hike with mind-boggling and astounding views of the volcanic mountains are something that should be on every hiker’s bucket list. I would definitely go back to the national park, but this time to complete the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
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