This popular crossing is lauded as NZ’s finest one-day walk with more than 100,000 trampers finishing it yearly. It takes between six to eight hours to complete the 19.4km mixed terrain walk amid steaming vents and springs, stunning rock formations, peculiar moonscape basins, impossible scree slopes and vast views – the most iconic across the Emerald Lakes.
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. Strong winds see trampers crawl along the ridge of Red Crater, the high point of the trek, and can blow people off their feet. A sunny day could still be a gusty day, so check in with your nearest information centre. 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.
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 to stock up on water and snacks. If you're keen to undertake a guided tramp, contact Adrift Guided Outdoor Adventures or Adventure Outdoors.
The Crossing starts at Mangatepopo Rd car park, off SH47, and finishes at Ketetahi Rd, off SH46. As of late 2017, a four-hour parking restriction at the Mangatepopo Rd car park has been implemented to resolve overcrowding. Those undertaking the crossing need to organise shuttle transport – often your accommodation can provide a recommendation. Shuttle services operate from Whakapapa Village, National Park Village, Turangi, Taupo, Ohakune and Raetihi.