Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Top choice Hiking

in Tongariro National Park

This popular route is acclaimed as NZ’s finest one-day walk, with more than 100,000 hikers crossing yearly. It takes six to eight hours to complete the 19.4km walk amid steaming vents and springs, stunning rock formations, peculiar moonscape basins, scree slopes and vast views – the photo stop to beat them all is the Emerald Lakes.

This is a fair-weather walk. 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 hikers 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 or shuttle provider. The most crowded times on the track are the first nice days after Christmas and Easter, when there can be up to 2000 people strung out between the two road ends.

As the name suggests, 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 hikers, wearing ridiculously inappropriate shoes, denim jeans soaked to the skin and no rain jackets, are a legendary sight on this route. As well as proper gear, you’ll need to carry enough water and snacks for a whole day. If you prefer to undertake a guided walk, contact Adrift Tongariro or Adventure Outdoors.The Crossing starts at Mangatepopo Rd car park, off SH47, and finishes at Ketetahi Rd, off SH46. A four-hour parking restriction applies at the Mangatepopo Rd car park, making it pretty much compulsory to organise shuttle transport.