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You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

The Tongariro Crossing: New Zealand’s most popular day walk … in Maori!

In the beginning, there was darkness. Papatuanuku, the Earth Mother, cuddled up against Rangiori, the Sky Father, and in between them lived there many children. It was then that Tanemahuta, the strongest among their offspring, decided to separate his mother from his father and bring light into the world. Rangiori and Papatuanuku, however, loved each other so much, that they cried and cried and cried, and their tears filled the rivers and the streams of this new world. In order to stop his parents from crying, Tanemahuta went to clad his mother Papatuanuku in all the beauty of the forests, the flowers and the birds, thus becoming the God of the Forest. …

Now sprinkle that story of Maori Creation with a pair of sparkling eyes, a vivid voice, lots of gesticulating arms & body language, and you will get to meet wonderful Ngahuia Tahau, my dear friend & Maori guide, to welcome you and draw you into her world of wonders: The many stories that this extraordinary people is able to tell and share with its visitors. I just find myself forever mesmerised by the beauty of Maori songs & stories, especially where they relate to interpreting the very land we see and walk on as we travel around Aotearoa New Zealand.

Ngahuia, who runs her own eco-cultural Maori tourism business, “A Fusion of Maori Culture & Education” and who is really clever at designing apps for Maori tourism businesses (!) and I have met all those years ago when I first travelled, lived and worked in her beautiful home country. Ever since taking my entire family out on a storytelling visit of her people, including us weaving with Harakeke, enjoying a traditional Hangi earth oven meal as well as listening to lots and lots of nature-based stories, we have truly and dearly become friends. You may therefore only imagine the happiness of us being reunited again after all these years, sharing an almost sister-like bond right from the start: “It is all in the mindset”, Ngahuia would laugh and look at me with her big eyes, good-natured humour and sparkling personality. And also: “I am guiding on the Tongariro Crossing now! Come with me on this unique day walk, Elena!”

Welcome to Lake Taupo, Ngahuia’s home in the Central North Island of New Zealand!

Welcome to Lake Taupo, Ngahuia’s home in the Central North Island of New Zealand!

 

Doing the Tongariro Crossing means getting out of bed around 5.00 in the morning, only to be at the base of the mountains of Tongariro National Park at sunrise.

Doing the Tongariro Crossing means getting out of bed around 5.00 in the morning, only to be at the base of the mountains of Tongariro National Park at sunrise.

 

Ready to go with dear Ngahuia: New Zealand’s most popular day walk …

Ready to go with dear Ngahuia: New Zealand’s most popular day walk …

 

… takes you past landscapes such as this one, with Mount Ruapehu shining in the distance.

… takes you past landscapes such as this one, with Mount Ruapehu shining in the distance.

 

Soon after, Mount Ruapehu’s brother mountain Ngaurahoe, also known as “Mount Doom” in the Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, decides to show up, barely lifted from its sleepy cover. …

Soon after, Mount Ruapehu’s brother mountain Ngaurahoe, also known as “Mount Doom” in the Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, decides to show up, barely lifted from its sleepy cover. …

 

… while we, our group of French travellers and I, enjoy our first storytelling lesson with Ngahuia.

… while we, our group of French travellers and I, enjoy our first storytelling lesson with Ngahuia.

 

The girls just love to be united again!

The girls just love to be united again!

 

Let me tell you why the Tongariro Crossing is so much more worthwhile with a cultural interpreter & personal storytelling guide such as Ngahuia.

Being on the Tongariro Crossing with literally hundreds of other people around you, and especially after walking in the solitary beauty of my recent Heaphy Track adventure, you need to find ways to still make it special. One such way to get more out of this walk is from having all these valuable pieces of information & interpretation of what you see and experience. And it is not just that. By the end of the day, you feel like you have actually made a first Maori friend in this land. Ngahuia is such a force of nature. She will just win your heart and conquer your mind in no time, filling it with all the beauty and intricate storytelling of her own people.

Being on the Tongariro Crossing can bring you moments like these: Sharing the track with hundreds of others, such as in this place called “Devil’s Staircase” …

Being on the Tongariro Crossing can bring you moments like these: Sharing the track with hundreds of others, such as in this place called “Devil’s Staircase” …

 

… but equally moments of solitude and contemplation.

… but equally moments of solitude and contemplation.

 

We love the perfect mix of it all: Sharing this magic land with good people around you!

We love the perfect mix of it all: Sharing this magic land with good people around you!

 

JUHU!

YAY!

 

And Ngahuia most deservedly so, being our happy, knowledgeable guide for the day.

And Ngahuia most deservedly so, being our happy, knowledgeable guide for the day.

 

As we make our way towards the summit of the Tongariro Crossing at almost 2.000 metres above sea level …

As we make our way towards the summit of the Tongariro Crossing at almost 2.000 metres above sea level …

 

… the landscape around us changes into … this!

… the landscape around us changes into … this!

 

Time for another story: Up on the mountaintop, Ngahuia fills us in on the story of creation (and relation) of all the mountains around us.

Time for another story: Up on the mountaintop, Ngahuia fills us in on the story of creation (and relation) of all the mountains around us.

 

Whereas from here, it is “just down hill and further across really”!

Whereas from here, it is “just down hill and further across really”!

 

The Emerald Lakes, so-called for their stunning natural appearance, are a popular lunch spot on this eight-hour day walk.

The Emerald Lakes, so-called for their stunning natural appearance, are a popular lunch spot on this eight-hour day walk.

 

Looking back from a distance reveals a most spectacular sight: Snow-covered Mount Ruapehu in the back, with Mount Ngaurahoe’s perfect black cone looming in the middle against Tongariro’s multiple shapes and colours in the front. Wow.

Looking back from a distance reveals a most spectacular sight: Snow-covered Mount Ruapehu in the back, with Mount Ngaurahoe’s perfect black cone looming in the middle against Tongariro’s multiple shapes and colours in the front. Wow.

 

I am forever fascinated. “Uuuauuu”, is what I keep saying to Ngahuia, tugging at her sleeve and stopping mid-sentence in the conversation we are having. “Look at that !!!” She smiles in an almost casual way, yet I can see that the natural beauty of this place, unlike anywhere else on this planet Earth, also gets to here time and time again. “Let me tell you another story”, is what she would then say, her eyes glistening with the spirit of times immemorial & literally tons of stories to be told about her people. The Great Migration. The seven wakas, or canoes, that the Maori people first came on and settled in Aotearoa New Zealand. Their descendants, the tribes, the different protocols, the hapu and the iwi and all the mana, or esteem, that went into their creation and traditions over time. The stories on the mountain gods and their struggles, mirrored in the earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that to Maori people have helped shaping their belief system and allowed them to make sense of what they saw and felt in the landscape surrounding them. It really is most fascinating. I recommend all of you to go and live & listen to the eternal wisdom of this people here.

Not only the people are alive here: So is Mount Tongariro, emitting volcanic gases as we speak – sign of another nearing eruption?

Not only the people are alive here: So is Mount Tongariro, emitting volcanic gases as we speak – sign of another nearing eruption?

 

Meanwhile, we are here to “soak up all the magic” this land throws at us. ☺

Meanwhile, we are here to “soak up all the magic” this land throws at us. 🙂

 

… And be rather casual, so long as the volcanoes are not erupting, clearly!

… And be rather casual, so long as the volcanoes are not erupting, clearly!

 

Part of our own feeling of safety is that we are with our happy local guide Ngahuia! And being Maori of the local Tuwharetoa tribe, she is allowed to take us onto her private land inside Tongariro National Park: We go where no one else is going !!!

Part of our own feeling of safety is that we are with our happy local guide Ngahuia! And being Maori of the local Tuwharetoa tribe, she is allowed to take us onto her private land inside Tongariro National Park: We go where no one else is going !!!

 

Love that really: Ngahuia taking us to Ketetahi springs, a black volcano mountain river coming off Mount Tongariro …

Love that really: Ngahuia taking us to Ketetahi springs, a black volcano mountain river coming off Mount Tongariro …

 

… happily steaming away in the distance!

… happily steaming away in the distance!

 

We are safe & sound for now …

We are safe & sound for now …

 

… touching base again with the living creatures of Tanemahuta’s forests at the volcanoes’ foothills of Tongariro National Park: Love watching my “koru” tree fern shoots emerging here!

… touching base again with the living creatures of Tanemahuta’s forests at the volcanoes’ foothills of Tongariro National Park: Love watching my “koru” tree fern shoots emerging here!

 

Or how about this heart-shaped tree trunk? I am an old romantic, I know …!

Or how about this heart-shaped tree trunk? I am an old romantic, I know …!

 

And equally happy to recommend you this: Having a soak at Taupo DeBretts Hot Springs after a long day out on the Tongariro Crossing.

And equally happy to recommend you this: Having a soak at Taupo DeBretts Hot Springs after a long day out on the Tongariro Crossing.

 

As well as … fish’n’chips, a New Zealand favourite, to finish the day! Bon appetite!

As well as … fish’n’chips, a New Zealand favourite, to finish the day! Bon appetite!

 

Check out even more stunning nature photography from Tongariro National Park here:

Disclaimer: I have been invited by Ngahuia to join her on the guided Tongariro Crossing in New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park. All opinions are my own.

Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

Ready for learning even more about creative travel?

Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
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2 Comments

  1. Fabrizio Ranzolin

    Elena, quanta beleza desta terra tão ancestral, incrível o contraste do belo com o violento do planeta… Demais!!!

    Reply

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