Classed as one of the best day hikes in the world, and most certainly the best in New Zealand, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a must do if you are reasonably active and want to see some of the best landscapes that New Zealand has to offer. This post is a complete guide to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing which will fully prepare you for this once in a lifetime hike!
Haven’t heard of the Tongariro Crossing? For my Tongariro photo diary, check out this post.
Stretching over 19.6km, with the option to add in a 3.5-hour extension to the summit of Mount Doom and back or a 3-hour extension to Mount Tongariro and back, the Tongariro Crossing is definitely not something to be taken lightly or something to do if you don’t like walking (there’s a lot of that).
Upon the Tongariro Alpine Crossing you’ll see Mt. Ngaharuru (also known as Mt. Doom for all you LOTR fans out there). You’ll witness the emerald lakes, the blue lake, the red crater and the soda springs. There are places to relax, there are places to enjoy your picnic by the lake and there are plenty of places to rest up so you can take the track at your own pace.
It is honestly the walk that keeps on giving, with natural wonders left, right and centre to fully distract your mind from the hefty walk you are actually enduring.
What are you waiting for? Add it to your bucket list right now, and keep reading my guide to the Tongariro Crossing to plan your adventure!
Deciding to take on the Tongariro Crossing challenge is one thing. Due to the extremity and exposure endured throughout the walk, this activity (or the safety of it) is very weather-dependent. You can check the safety and forecast here.
This can be frustrating if you are on a tight time-schedule, as it may mean waiting around for the weather to clear. But, having completed it, I would say:
Note: I visited in spring (November 2016) and had to wait 4 days for appropriate hiking weather. The summer months (Dec – Feb) are recommended for the hike, and in winter months it is highly recommended to hike with an experienced guide.
The crossing is open to the public so you can drive there and attempt it all by yourself. But, like I said, make sure you check the conditions before you head down. The route is very well sign-posted, giving guides to time frames, distances and directions. It’s an extremely popular route so chances are you’ll be sharing the track with many other wanderers.
Note: In the winter months the weather is even more extreme, so do not attempt the crossing unless you are an experience mountaineer.
To head out on the crossing – no. It’s a National Park so you don’t need to pay to enter.
If you’re travelling on Kiwi Experience through NZ like I was, then this is an activity on the route and the driver will hand a clipboard around, on which you can put your name down for participation. Check out my guide to the Kiwi Experience here.
We booked through Tongariro Expeditions for $55, which included being picked up from our accommodation and being dropped off after the hike (it’s about 1 hour and 20 minutes from Taupo centre to the Tongariro crossing entrance). Also, they’ll give you a map with a time guide for the route. Check out my backpacker’s guide to Taupo here.
If you drive yourself, you can drive to the end and book a one way shuttle to the start of the track. That way you can have your car at the finish ready for your arrival.
(based on the November climb that I did)
I wore my Adidas boosts as I couldn’t justify the room in my luggage for walking boots that I would use once or twice in the 4 months I was away. I would definitely recommend walking boots. It would definitely allow you to walk more quickly, more safely, with more support. This is ESSENTIAL for climbing Mount Doom (the additional challenge on the crossing).
You can hire walking equipment/boots for the day from the National Park Village.
Socks that are both comfortable and allow your feet to breathe!
The altitude will vary throughout the hike and consequently, so will your body temperature. If you have any weather technology leggings, they are perfect. Saying that, I simply wore workout bottoms and I managed just fine. The only time I wished I’d had anything more was at the top of Mount Doom (waterproofs would have been nice for the snowy areas when I fell on my bum) and descending Mt. Doom (full length bottoms would have been nice to avoid scratches from the loose rocks).
A thin, bottom layer to strip down to, if you get super hot.
I had my amazing merino wool base-layer, which doesn’t look much but keeps you SO cosy. It’s also breathable for the slightly warmer conditions, meaning it adapts and you don’t have to keep adding/removing layers.
It’s better to be taking off layers rather than wishing you had more to put on. If you’ve ever been to NZ, you’ll know about their crazy weather changes. So, during an 8-hour hike you are bound to experience different ends of the weather spectrum. Always be prepared for a change in weather and therefore, if you can, make room for:
What are your top tips? I’d love to know!
Love as always and happy adventuring,
Did you find this post helpful? I’d love you to share it for me.
I can’t do this without you.
Pin and save this blog post for later…