The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is commonly written up as one of the best day hikes in all of New Zealand. Not only is it just long and strenuous enough to make you feel that you’ve accomplished an epic feat (19.4 kilometers), but it winds you through a countless array of different environments: dry and dusty plains, volcanic craters, tropical fern gullies, enchanted forests, open mountains, and moon-like terrain. The weather systems even change depending where you are on the hike.
This crater on the Tongariro trail, photographed in a fleeting moment of blue sky, was used in the Lord of Rings movie to depict Mt Doom. Scary.