We had booked Sarah Cate for a guided Tongariro Crossing in early July. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate - major storms on the mountain increased the avalanche risk, so we were unable to make the Crossing. Sarah offered to call it off at no charge (we were not charged anything ahead of time), or we could still hire her to take us along other walks in the area. We decided to go ahead with a guided trip, since we still wanted to get out and see what we could, despite the rain/snow. I am SO GLAD we did.
Sarah picked us up at Adventure Lodge (also highly recommended), and took us on two different few-hour hikes with a stop at a beautiful lake under Mt. Tongariro for lunch. Along the way she told us all about the local birds and plants - we even learned to recognize a few of the native trees by the end of the day. She told us of Maori legends and history in the area, and told us lovely stories about her life growing up in the area. We never would have known where to go by ourselves based on the weather for the day, nor would we have gotten that much education of the local history and natural bush without her help.
I would highly recommend Sarah/Adventure Outdoors if you're in the area - even in the summer when a guide is not necessary for the Crossing, the added benefit of local knowledge would be worth it. She also offers kayaking trips and other hikes - don't miss the best outdoor adventure experience you can have in this beautiful area full of rich history and natural beauty.
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