DAY 1: Taupo - Tongariro National Park - Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Approx. 19 km circuit, 7 - 8 hours walking (Moderate Grade).
Pick up from Taupo at approx. 5:30am.
Other pickup locations & time:
- Turangi: Pick up at approx. 6:15am
- Whakapapa Village: Pick up at approx. 6:45am
Other pickup locations can be arranged at additional cost. Pre-walk accommodation can be arranged at the same hotel. Please enquiry at time of booking.
This 19km trek is New Zealand's best day one day walk. The track leads up to the saddle between Mt. Ngauruhoe and Mt. Tongariro. The landscape on Tongariro is peppered with the different coloured and shaped craters that have been active at different periods, scoured volcanic rocks, mountain springs, and brightly coloured emerald lakes.
The walk starts at Mangatepopo (1100m), and commences at Ketetahi (750m). The highest point on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is Red Crater (1886m).
Walk from Mangatepopo to Soda Springs. Grade: Easy. Allow 1 hour - 1 1/2 hours
This first section of the track is fairly flat. The track is well formed and board walked in damper parts. About 20 minutes from the car park is a sidetrack to the Mangatepopo Hut, and toilet facilities. The main track continues up the valley following the Mangatepopo stream and around the edge of old lava flows. Plants change along the track as you climb in altitude. At Soda Springs are the last toilet facilities until you get to the Ketetahi Hut.
Walk Soda Springs to South Crater. Grade: Moderate Difficult. Allow 40 minutes to 1 hour
This section is steep - climbing from 1400 up to 1600 metres above sea level and is known as the devils staircase. Take your time
- slow and steady is the best way to conquer this section. On a clear day the view down the valley and out across the surrounding countryside is well worth it! You may even see Mt. Taranaki, another volcano on the western horizon. Take care as you are walking over layers of ancient and modern lava flows and other volcanic debits so the track surface is not smooth.
Walk South Crater to Red Crater. Grade: Moderate Difficult. Allow 1 hour
It is great to be on the flat, but once you have crossed South Crater there is another short climb on an exposed ridge. The track follows the ridge to Red Crater. If you have plenty of time you can make the decision to summit Tongariro. The main track continues around Red Crater. You have spectacular views over the Oturere Valley, Rangipo Desert, Kaimanawa Ranges and down to the Emerald Lakes.
Walk from Red Crater to Blue Lake. Grade: Moderate. Allow 30 minutes
Care is required with the descent from Red Crater, as this part of the track is steep and you are on loose scoria which can move under foot. To the left you will see an old lava flow from Red Crater spreading out across the floor of The Tongariro Northern Circuit track to Otureree Hut branches off just past the lowest Emerald Lake. The Tongariro Crossing track follows around the edge of Central Crater then climbs up to Blue Lake (A cold acidic lake). The lake is tapu (sacred) and it is disrespectful to eat or drink around its shores/central crater. To the right are the Emerald Lakes. Minerals leached from the surrounding rock cause the brilliant emerald colour. The steam vents above the lake are responsible for the sulphurous smell.
Walk from Blue Lake to Ketetahi Hut. Grade: Moderate. Allow 1 hour
There is a short easy climb to the edge of North Crater. This crater was once filled with molten lava which then cooled and solidified giving a level surface more than 1000m wide. In good weather there are spectacular views out over Mt. Pihanga and Lake Rotoaira to Lake Taupo. You then zigzag your way down to the Ketetahi Hut through the natural alpine garden. Ketetahi Hut has toilet facilities.
Walk from Ketetahi Hut to Ketetahi Carpark. Grade: Moderate. Allow 2 hours
The track crosses the stream that flows down from Keteahi Hot Springs and the rocks are stained interesting colours from the minerals in the water. The track leads through open tussock land to a clearing with some seats. At this point the track drops steeply to the Mangatetipua Stream and through native forest for about an hour and a half. There is a short sidetrack leading to a waterfall a few minutes before reaching the Ketetahi carpark, where a refreshment waiting for you. The Ketetahi carpark has a shelter and toilet facilities.
Summer Season Walk
offers a majestic landscape of recent resultant volcanic activity. There is a vast array of colors and textures created from Sulfur, Aluminum, Silica, and many other mineral deposits released from within the Earth's Crust. In summer this track can be crowded and where possible, you will be taken away from the masses, while making sure that the popular sights are still experienced. If you prefer to walk with no crowds and watch the sunrise on the top of Red Crater with the peaceful, still, quiet moments of the dawn, you can change the day walk to a pre-dawn walk, departing times from National Park Village vary between 1.30am-3.00am in accordance with the changing sunrise times. There is an extra $50 per person for the pre-dawn walk. Please advise at the time of booking if you prefer to change to the pre-down walk.
Winter Season Walk
offers the opportunity to walk through the magnificent snow covered landscape without the summer crowds. No outdoor experience is necessary, all training and tuition is given on the day. Crampons and ice-axes are supplied by Adrift Tongariro for a fantastic alpine experience.
Return to your hotel at approx. 5:30pm.
Enjoy your three-course (set menu) dinner at Ruapehu Restaurant. Alcohol is not included.