Here is the info about the Tongariro Crossing that I did on April 30, 2011.
The super long 9 hour hike. Yes, it was 9 hours. It is actually scheduled to be 10 hours but I managed (with some Austrian friends I met) to do it in 9. From 7:15AM to 4:23PM. I hiked all the way up mount doom...which is just like the name. You are supposed to start the hike (which is two hours in to the 18K trail) by 9:15AM and we started it at 9:13AM. It takes 1.5 to 2 hours to clamber up and only a half hour (or less) to get down. It is windy as hell (70 knots), has lava rocks that are really slippery (just a ton of them like gravel...you take one step forward and slide two feet back) and sharp. There is no track up mount doom. You create your own, up 600 vertical meters. All you have to remember is that you are not guided and if you fall you need to get your own help. So, I managed to make it up without falling to my death or losing anything permanently. I did lose both my hat and sunglasses due to the wind, but managed (with the help of kind people) to find them. The Austrians that I was hiking with helped me crawl and puff my way up to the top. They then rummaged in their bags and pulled out a Corona each and a self rolled smoke to toast to their success. They offered me a sip of beer but I knew I had to get down and hike the rest of the day. They told me is was only the FIRST BEER and that they had another set when we finished the trail at 3:30. Good god. Imagine carrying enough water (approx 1.5L) to keep you hydrated for the day AND a pair of beers in glass bottles. They were nuts. We had a good time getting down and making it to safety. The wind was blowing so hard in the end that large pieces of gravel (larger than sand) were being whipped into our faces and it felt like someone was shooting bbs at us. My face was dirty, my hair filled with dirt (I had to wash it twice after soaking it and scrubbing with my fingernails), even my ears had dirt in them from that dang wind. It was tough, but I got through it. Everything was a piece of cake from there. We climbed up, up, up through another saddle in the mountain range and down over the other side. The down part was the best! At about 1PM we were able to stop for lunch at the wicked cool spot where there were green/blue glacial pools (that smelled of sulfur) and found an awesome spot out of the wind to eat lunch. I have photos, but am too exhausted to put them up or download them or anything. I can hardly write this e-mail! :P Anywho, after lunch we went up one more tricky bit and then it was smooth sailing from then on! We walked down down down through the patches of snow with a nice cool breeze at our backs. We had fun making the trip go faster by throwing snowballs and talking about life. We made it to the final rest stop (a hut for those making a longer trek) and spent a half hour resting in the sunshine shielded from the wind. The final beers came out and we polished them off with ease. The Austrians didn't have the time pressure that I did to catch a bus at 4:30 and I realized that I was running a half hour late. So, I decided to RUN for a half hour to catch up with everyone else and to make it to the bus on time. I did it, but was pretty tired and gritty. I was lucky enough to stop by a stream and rinse my face off with glacial water which made the trip down fun. I made it to the bus with seven minutes to spare and was pretty darn tired. Overall it was a great day. I have an invite to Austria for skiing, and am very happy camper. This was probably the coolest day on the North Island and now I have to go to bed because of it. Tired and have to catch a bus in the morning. Will sleep like the dead.