The challenge was set, a 19.4km journey.  Thirty-eight of us (ranging in ages from 8-50+) gathered in the Tongariro National Park Lodge on Friday night.  Our group included people from Revival Church assemblies in Hawkes Bay, Wellington and Palmerston North as well as some of their friends that joined in for the weekend.

Staying at the Discovery Lodge we found the accommodation was excellent and discovered our host Callum Harland to be a Tongariro Crossing champion having run it in a stunning 1 hour and 25 minutes. Intrigued and looking forward to finding out more from him we invited Callum to have dinner with us on Saturday night.

Saturday morning was an early start at 5am with a hot breakfast cooked by our very own cooks from Hawkes Bay (thanks to Tess and her helpers).  Callum our host drove the bus to the start of the track – on the way he shared with us a few good tips for the Devil’s staircase and also started telling how he got into mountain running.  For some of our group there were nerves as it was their first time doing the Crossing and for others it was a repeat trip. Some had too much gear, some too much food and others just met the safety requirements – but all together we were in high spirits and were looking forward to spending the day walking together.  Setting off in groups at a varying paces (slow, fast and even a couple of runners) it was a great day spent talking and catching up, in one of NZ’s most unique and picturesque landscapes.

Our Young Peoples group (sporting quite a bit more energy) and some keen Oldies took the opportunity of the perfect weather and headed up Mt Ngauruhoe as well. We could see them as they snaked their way up Ngauruhoe and it’s notoriously steep mountain face. Needless to say, the Youngies still managed to overtake us and get back to the buses long before us.

The tales were all shared at the Saturday night dinner where accomplishments were celebrated, jokes and jibes laughed at and general exhaustion felt. Each person told of his or her personal highlight of the day and we heard an inspiring life story from Callum.

The weekend was finished off Sunday morning with a loud energetic chorus session and a short talk from the Bible where we remembered how great it is to not just ‘know God, but be known of Him’., but be known of Him’.