Tongariro Alpine Crossing

activities / Hiking & trekking

Tongariro Alpine Crossing information

This popular crossing is often lauded as NZ’s finest one-day walk, and around 10,000 trampers complete it yearly. Amid the thrilling scenery are steaming vents and springs, crazy rock formations and peculiar moonscape basins, impossible scree slopes and vast views. Diverse vegetation zones range from alpine scrub and tussock to higher zones with no plant life at all.

This is a fair-weather tramp. In poor conditions it is little more than an arduous up-and-down, with only orange-tipped poles to mark the passing of the day. Should strong winds be blowing on top, you’ll be practically crawling along the ridge of Red Crater, the high point of the trek.

This is an alpine crossing, and it needs to be treated with respect. You need a reasonable level of fitness and you should be prepared for all types of weather. Shockingly ill-equipped trampers are legendary on this route – stupid shoes, no rain jackets, blue jeans soaked to the skin – we’ve seen it all. As well as proper gear, you’ll need plenty of water, as there is none available between Mangatepopo and Ketetahi. If you're keen to undertake a guided tramp, contact Adrift Guided Outdoor Adventures or Adventure Outdoors .

The most crowded times on the track are the first nice days after Christmas and Easter, when there can easily be more than 1000 people strung out between the two road ends. The upside of this popularity is excellent shuttle connections, with plenty of operators offering round-trip transport. Be sure to book your ride in advance, and keep an eye on your progress so you don’t miss your ride. Shuttles operate from Whakapapa Village, National Park Village, Ohakune and Taumarunui, making them all possible overnight bases for the tramp.

The Crossing starts at Mangatepopo Rd car park, off SH47, and finishes at Ketetahi Rd, off SH46. It takes seven to eight hours to make the 19.4km journey, although this will vary significantly if you decide to take side trips up to the summits of Ngauruhoe or Tongariro – both very worthwhile and taking around two and three hours respectively. A word of warning: if you summit Ngauruhoe, keep an eagle-eye out for dislodged boulders careening down the slopes. Injuries do occur.