We are planning to visit NZ during the upcoming January and we are keen for the Tongariro alpine crossing. We are planning to reach Rotorua after visiting Hobbiton and Waitomo Caves. We are seeing two options available:
1. Leave from Rotorua at 6 AM (Alpine Hot Bus has a shuttle) and return by 7 PM and then rest the next day (or)
2. First leave from Rotorua to Taupo and stay the day and take a shuttle from Taupo the next day to do the hike and rest again at Taupo, and then return to Rotorua the day after that.
The first one saves a day and also gives a spare day for changes in weather conditions, but I am concerned about the following things:
a) If we start at 6 AM from Rotorua, the hike can start by 8:30. Will it be a bit late to start the hike then?
b) Are there any hiking gear available at Rotorua for the crossing?
c) Does it often happen in summer that weather conditions are not favorable and thus have a spare day?
I am looking for advice on which of the two options would be better.We are planning to take a flight from Rotorua to Queenstown. I am not considering Turangi as the onward bus from Turangi to Rotorua is not at a convenient time as compared to Taupo.