The Tongariro Crossing is one of the best day walks in the world. There is nothing very difficult about the walk in good weather, but bad weather can com on very quickly, so you need to be prepared for rapid changes in temperature, and to take the standard precuations in mountains, particularly to carry a map, compass, whistle, water, food, and additional layrs of clothing. Above all, get the local weather forecast, and do not attempt the walk in bad weather - people have been lost that way!

The walk is 17 km. long with 800 metres ascent and 1150 metres of descent. Most people stay the night in the village of National Park, and arrange an early morning pick-up with one of the local minibus companies. The bus will take you to the Mangatepopo road end, and will also meet you at around 4 pm at the far end of the walk to take you back to National Park.

Our conclusion, having done this, is that it would be much better to get up even earlier, drive oneself to the Mangatepopo road end, walk the first half of the route, and then return. We make this recommendation because (a) getting to the far end by 4 pm is easily possible, but it does not allow any time for side trips, and not much time for sitting down to admire the stunning views (b) the second half of the walk is a long descent through less interesting landscapes, though with good long views (c) the uniue landscapes of the route are all in the first half of the walk, and it is good to see them from two different directions and (d) you are not travelling with many other people at the beginning but can have all this stunning landscape to yourself, or at most shring it with a handful of others. Anyway, it is a personal choice, and this website will help you to make it.

Early dawn

The hut at the road end

Interesting joint for the hut construction

The start of the track - mesh to avoid erosion

Red lichens

and white

Most people start between 7.30 and 8, so there are quite a lot of people on the track to begin with

Track passing over a lava field

Clouds across the face of Mt. Ngauruhoe

The first steep bit

Board walk across fragile alpine area

Walking across the South crater

It is possible to climb Mt. Ngauruhoe on an unmarked path, but it is a steep climb taking 1½ hours return, and there is not enough time for this unless you are staying the night in one of the huts

The toilet near Soda Springs (lashed down for the severe winds)

The Soda Spring, smelling of sulphur

Waterfall above Soda Springs

The track gets steeper (right)

Looking back to the start

Walking across the South Crater

Some flowers can grow even in volcanic ash

The path climbs up the left hand ridge

Looking back over the South crater

The path to the final summit

with the stunning Red Crater beyond it

including this very strange lava flow hollowed out by weathering

The highest point of the crossing (1900 m.)

Looking down on the Emerald Lakes

This short section of the path is on loose scree

Steam from ulphur springs

The sulphur spills over onto the slope below

Looking back from the first emerald lake to the high summit (left)

The third emerald lake had this interesting red reed round its margin, providing a stunningt colour contrast

Looking back from there to the high summit (right)

Department of Conservation signposts make sure you don't get lost

The path leads on across the central crater

Looking back

Arriving at the Blue Lake

From the Blue Lake, which is almost exactly halfway, there is a steady descent of over 1000 m. through less interesting scenery to the Ketetahi road end. An alternative at this point is to trun round and see all the really good scenery again.

Tuft lichens

...growing in great abundance

The Keetahi Hut with the Keetahi Springs just above them. (The springs are on private land)

A sunken path in a red tussock area

The Dept. of Conservation is building a shortcut path to lead walkers further from the private springs. There is even a small digger at the top of line of bags, presumably brought in by helicopter.

The path from here on is made up with stepped levels and honeycomb mesh to prevent erosion

There were plenty of bare flax stalks all over NZ, but this was the only plant still flowering

For the last few km. the path is in forest land

...with occasional resting places for the weary who were not by then short of time to reach their bus at the road end

The last kilometer runs alongside a gusing stream

Back at the Tongariro Crossing Lodge in National Park

And off to the railway station, now converted to a restaurant, for a very good dinner

This page written and maintained by Internetworks Ltd