It is not the shortest day walk in New Zealand, but definitely the most exciting one.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing will bring you deep into the heart of this National Park and dual World Heritage Site. You will see ancient volcanoes and amazing blue and green lakes during this 19,4 km hike.
In this blog, you will find everything you need to know about the Alpine Crossing. You can download the brochure from the DOC, find places to park, read what you should pack and of course we will tell you all about the 19,4 km hike through this volcanic land.
The Tongariro Track
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a challenging day-hike in the center of the northern island. You will find the start of the hike at Mangatepōpō Road end at an altitude of 1120 meter. It is most challenging because of the length of the hike. The ascend is about 760 meters and the descend 1110 meters.
You will start by climbing the Mangatepopo Valley to the saddle between Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe. Then you will pass the South Crater before climbing to the Red Crate, the highest point on this crossing at 1886 meters.
Now it is time to descend to the amazing Emerald Lakes also known as Ngarotopounamu. After passing the blue colored lake Te Wai-whakaata-o-te-Rangihiroa (yeh, try to read that again) the track goes around the northern slope of Tongariro. A long descent brings you to the road end at 760 meters.
Track overview & time
- Mangatepopo Road End To Soda Springs – 1 to 1.5 h
- Soda Springs To South Crater – 40 m to 1 h
- South Crater to Red Crater – 1 h
- Red Crater to Blue Lake – 30 m
- Blue Lake to Ketetahi Shelter – 1 h
- Ketetahi Shelter to Ketetahi Carpark – 2 h
You can find detailed information about the track in the brochure from the Department of Conservation.
Or you can visit the local i-SITE or Department of Conservation Visitor Centre. They can give you information about track conditions, weather and avalanches.
You can book your tickets for shuttles or guided tours in advance.
How to get there
There is very limited parking near the access points to the track. From the beginning of Labour weekend in October until April 30th parking restrictrions (only 4 hours allowed) will be in place at road-ends. You can choose one of the excellent shuttle services that run from local towns.
You can book your Tongariro Crossing Shuttles from National park Village in advance. National Park fees, round-trip shared transfer and return Shuttle Transfer from National Park Village are included in the fair.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing Packing List Summer
You will be on your feet for about 6 to 9 hours so come prepared. Depending on the season you will need to bring at least:
- A lot of water, especially in summer. Water alon the track is not suitable for drinking.
- Bring foods high in calories. You will be burning a lot of energy.
- Waterproof jacket and pants.
- Warm layered clothing, hat and depending on the temperature gloves.
- Sturdy tramping boots
- Mobile phone, map, compass or GPS.
- Sunscreen, sunglasses and a First Aid Kid
Dual World Heritage Site
Tongariro National Park with its giant volcanoes, Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, and Ruapehu, has dual World Heritage status.
All three volcanoes have erupted in recent times. The last confirmed eruption of Tongariro was in 1897. It was the end of a sequence that lasted 40 years.
In 1990 Tongariro National Park received its World Heritage Status because of its outstanding natural values. In 1993 it also became the first place in the world to be listed as a World Heritage Site for the spiritual and cultural values.
Where to Stay
There are 5 main villages in or close to the border of the Tongariro National Park. Here you can book a motel, hotel or campsite before you will hike the Alpine Crossing. Most accommodations work closely with transfer companies.
Taupo: is about 90 km from the start of the track. This town has great facilities for hikers. It is considered the main tourist center of the region. But it is also the furthest from the starting point.
Turangi: is about 40 km from the start of the track at the Mangatepapa Car Park. It is the closest ‘larger’ town with the essential shops and services.
National Park Village: is about 20 km from the start of the track and lies on the edge of the National Park. A great spot to spend the night before the Tongariro Crossing. It has a convenience store, a couple of bars, restaurants and a gas station.
Whakapapa Village: is about 15 km from the car park at the start of the track. At the base of Mt Ruapehu, the largest volcano in New Zealand, it is the closest to the Tongariro Crossing. You can even start your walk from this town.
Ohakune: about 55 km from the start of the track you will find this town with good amenities like bars, restaurants, and supermarkets.
Enjoy this amazing hike
We wish you a great day on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Leave nothing but footprints so others can enjoy this beautiful scenery as well. When you are ready to book a shuttle or guide, you can find the best here.