Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Things to do in Ohakune
WALK THE TONGARIRO ALPINE CROSSING
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a Must Do in the Ruapehu region. Described as one of the best one day walk, this world renowned trek has unique landforms, including the volcanic peaks of Ngauruhoe, Tongariro and Ruapehu.
WHAT TO EXPECT & WHAT TO BRING
This world heritage site takes between 7-8 hours to conquer. Almost everyone can do it but make sure to be well prepared. Bring sufficient water and food for the trip. Look at the weather and don’t hesitate to ask us if it’s too windy! We always try to get you the best weather reports. Wear and bring the proper gear. Walking or hiking shoes, rain jacket, extra fleece layer, gloves, hat and sunscreen after all, you’re going up a mountain, it can be cold or very sunny up there!
Bring your mobile phone in case of emergency. There is not much coverage on the walk but it can still be handy!
During summer months, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is mostly accomplished self-guided but if you’re aiming for a winter expedition, make sure to contact Tongariro Expeditions who will provide you with the extra needed gear and guide.
Mangatepopo Road and parking area is open to private vehicles, but access is restricted due to limited car parking. When the car parks are full, most visitors will need to use the shuttle services to the Mangetepopo car park. We can book this shuttle for you the day before. Come and see us at reception for more info!
THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT!
The Pocket Ranger Application, free to download, is designed to offer an interactive and multi-media experience. It provides interpretation, maps and images of the unique natural features of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing at the same time conveying important safety messages.
THE HIKE – 19.4 KM
- Mangatepopo Car Park to Soda Springs Grade: Easy – allow 1 – 1.5 hours
The Mangatepopo Car Park is the start of the hike. There are toilet facilities at the start of the track, then again around 20 minutes from the start at the Mangatepopo Hut. The first section is relatively flat and gives you a chance to warm up for the day ahead. Near the head of the Mangatepopo Valley a 15 minute return sidetrack leads to the Soda Springs where the last toilet facilities for some 4 hours are available.
- Soda Springs to South Crater Grade: Moderate Difficult allow 45 minutes to an hour.
This section of the track hosts the “Devil’s Staircase” which is indeed a bit of a climb, rising 200 metres in quite a short distance. Take it easy and you will be treated to great views soon! The track surface here is crossing lava flows and other volcanic debris, take care to adjust to the different walking surface.
- South Crater to Red Crater Grade: Moderate Difficult allow 1 hour
A welcomed flat stretch here, followed by a rise on an exposed ridge to Red Crater, the highest point of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing with stunning views wherever you look.
- Red Crater to Blue Lake Grade: Moderate 30 minutes
The descent from Red Crater needs to be taken carefully, with loose scoria on a steep descent meaning you could lose your footing. The track then follows around the edge of the central crater, and climbs back up to Blue Lake, which is a cold acidic lake. The lake is sacred so please do not swim in it or eat around its edges.
- Blue Lake to Ketetahi Hut Grade: Moderate – 1 hour
To the right of Blue Lake you will see the Emerald Lake, and will be able to smell the sulphurous odour coming from around the lake. The water is acidic and is not suitable for swimming. After a short climb you will be on the edge of the North Crater, again with stunning views of the central plateau, then you will head down to the Ketetahi hut, which has toilet facilities should you need them.
- Ketetahi Hut to Ketetahi Carpark Grade: Moderate – allow 2 hours
The track crosses the stream here that flows down from the Ketetahi Springs, please note the springs are on private land and you must keep to the track. Follow the marked track down through the open tussock and down through the bush to the Ketetahi carpark.
A BIT OF EXTRA WORK
There are optional side trips while doing the crossing. Make sure you have enough water, food and energy to conquer those!
- Mount Ngauruhoe summit (2287m) Grade: Difficult allow 3 hr return from South Crater
Clear visibility and no strong wind is required to safely climb Mount Ngauruhoe. You also need good fitness – the volcano is steep, and the surface is mainly loose rock and stones (scree). The summit climb is not marked or formed.
- Mount Tongariro summit (1967m) Grade: Difficult allow 1.5 – 2 hr return from near the top of Red Crater
Clear visibility and no strong wind is required to safely climb Mount Tongariro. From Red Crater follow a poled route to the summit of Tongariro. The route is along an undulating rocky ridge, gaining approximately 100m in altitude.