The 19km Tongariro Alpine Crossing is frequently touted as the world’s best day walk, thanks to its compact combination of sulphurous lakes, huffing volcanoes and Lord of the Rings fame. But ‘best’ leads to busyness, and the trail is often packed. To avoid the crowds, do this walk by night. Start climbing, with headtorch and guide, at 2am and your only companions will be the spooky silhouettes of Mounts Ngauruhoe, Tongariro and Ruapehu, looming under a blanket of stars. The real treat, though, is arriving atop geothermally heated Red Crater to watch the sun rise over the strange, spectacular – and completely empty – land.