Tongariro Alpine Crossing, best walk-in-the-park ever?

Mount Ngauruhoe – near Red Crater

Mount Ngauruhoe – near Red Crater

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Hi everyone! I’m still travelling through New Zealand and today I flew from Taupo to Wellington to Nelson, just two flights of my current airplane bonanza to which I might just add one more flight in a few days. I arrived here at 10AM which gave me the entire day to sip cocktails by the pool. Which they didn’t seem to have, the cocktails I mean, the pool was there and so was the sun so I am once again a well-rested man.

Sorry for spamming your social media feeds yesterday, but I went on what is probably one of the greatest hikes ever: The Tongariro Alpine Crossing in Tongariro National Park. Don’t just take my word for it, New Zealand’s Department for Tourism agrees although they might be a bit biased..

A few things about this hike:

  • 19,4km walk in a National Park, this is the ‘standard’ Tongariro Crossing and does not include extra side-trips to the summits of Mount Ngauhuroe (+3h/6km return) or Mount Tongariro (1,5h return). I can assure you not a lot of people attempted to climb Mount Doom
  • To get a good start, I opted for an early pick-up at 5 AM as it is still a +60km drive from the resort I was staying at in Taupo. I booked with ‘Alpine Hot bus‘ which I unfortunately can’t recommend. (However the Reef resort was good, 9.3 on booking.com) Weather was rather chilly and especially cloudy in the morning, but it did clear up after an hour or so. Remember, you should pack warm clothing as weather conditions may change quickly! The weather yesterday was perfect though, clear skies after 10:30 AM. Only wore my waterproof Jack Wolfskin jacket for the first 45 minutes (better safe than freezing)
  • Other than packing the right clothing, take sufficient supplies with you: water & food. This was the first time ever for me doing such a long walk/hike so wasn’t really sure what to take. 2x 1,5l bottles of water, 8 sandwiches, few apples and some candy. I saw a few guys in the morning that had nothing else on than a t-shirt, shorts and were carrying a 1l bottle of water…  Did I take too much? No, I drank every drop and ate the last sandwich on the way back to Taupo.
  • Can anyone do this? Truth be told, 19,4 km is a long way to go. At times it can be rather steep, but there are long flats at the South Crater and between Emerald lakes and Blue lake. It is however definitely doable and during high season as much as 1.700 visitors per day go on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. So yes, go for it! For the hiking during the winter, I think you need to be in (semi) good condition!
  • The views.. OMG.. The views. I (obviously) brought my camera along on this hike and I didn’t put it away a single time. While you’re going up, you look back and think: “wauw this is the best view.” – take a picture – walk again – “wauw, this is the best view” – repeat. So you’re constantly snapping pictures.
  • The Tongariro Crossing starts at Mangatepopo and ends at Ketetahi road but I’m sure going it the other direction should be worth it as well! But then you’re going to have to say hello to all the 1.699 hikers…
  • How long did it take me? Including two ‘real’ stops near the Red Crater (amazing views over Central Crater, Emerald Lakes, Mount Ngauruhoe, ..) and at Ketetahi hut, it took me 7 hours to reach the parking near Ketetahi road. I walked at a decent pace but always took time to enjoy the scenery. The last 3km through the woods were a PITA though.
  • Did I mention the active volcano already?
  • The big question: “is it worth the blisters on your feet? Heck yes!!! FRIGGING AWE-SOME. Check the pictures:
Beginning of the track

Beginning of the track

First 1km of Tongariro Crossing

First 1km of Tongariro Crossing

To Soda Springs – Tongariro Crossing

To Soda Springs – Tongariro Crossing

Tongariro Crossing – first 6km

Mount Ngauruhoe

Mount Ngauruhoe – near Red Crater

Mount Ngauruhoe – near Red Crater

View from Red Crater: Blue Lake & Emerald Lakes

Emerald Lakes

Emerald Lakes

Looking back at Mount Ngauruhoe & Red Crater

Looking back at Mount Ngauruhoe & Red Crater

Blue Lake – Tongariro National Park

Blue Lake – Tongariro National Park

On the way to Ketetahi Hut

On the way to Ketetahi Hut

Active Volcano – Mount Tongariro – Te Maari CraterActive Volcano – Mount Tongariro – Te Maari Crater

Active Volcano – Mount Tongariro – Te Maari Crater

Descending from Ketetahi Hut

Descending from Ketetahi Hut

Near Ketetahi Hut

Near Ketetahi Hut

Is this awesome or what?

If I’ve inspired you to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing yourself, I recommend checking out the Department of Conservation’s website here (click) which has interesting & useful information such as Track description, ‘know before you go’, winter hiking, etc.

Kia Ora!

One Comment

  • […] a bus ride away from Auckland is Taupo, that serves as an excellent base for the Tongariro Crossing, the best walk-in-the-park ever, the highlight of this awesome trip. Taupo has a view bars and restaurants, but have a look […]

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