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The Tongariro Crossing

Sitting on top of a volcanic plateau eating the remains of a sandwich and trying not to finish the dregs of my water bottle I thought it odd the way other walkers edged away from me. Perched on a rock between an eerily violet blue and a stunning emerald green lake I suddenly got a powerful waft of a sulphurous bad egg smell. With no one else to blame I stared around and discovered a crack in the ground steaming and hissing the disgusting smell.

I was near the top of mount Tongariro on the north island in New Zealand. The Tongariro Crossing is a 7-8 hour strenuous trek up, across and then down the central volcanic range on North Island.

New Zealand is world famous for its hiking trails – the Milford track, the Routeburn, Able Tasman; all with rigid quota restrictions, take several days and are always booked up well in advance. So not wanting to leave New Zealand without an official tramp under my belt I opted for what the tourist board describe as ‘the greatest one day hike in the country’.

This has to be Kiwi understatement; I’d vote it the greatest one-day hike in the world.

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I’ve been writing about travel for the past 14 years and have travelled extensively from [A]ustralia to [Z]imbabwe. I’ve been around the world a few of times and have written widely for the international press in America, Australia and the UK, for newspapers, magazines and websites.I am also the author of a definitive guide to Wildlife Conservation Volunteering (Bradt, 2012) and have worked on volunteer projects in South America, Africa, India and Europe. Working from a riverboat on the Amazon has to be my favourite conservation project – a bit of comfort and luxury at the end of the day after getting filthy ploughing through the muddy jungle.I think the best way of getting around is travelling by train, not just because it’s eco-friendly but because I enjoy the journey as much as the destination. I’ve written a lot about train travel and am a contributing author to Great Railway Journeys of the World (Time Out 2009). My enthusiasm for travelling on trains culminated in 2011 – 2012 when I travelled around the world by train - from London to Sydney. This was the most amazing trip I’ve ever done and I spent three months because I couldn’t stop myself getting off to explore what couldn’t be seen from the window.Naturally it’s now a book!

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