Located at the Northern island of New Zealand, you can find the Tongariro National Park; a beautiful nature reserve which is created by volcanic activity. High mountain tops, snowy peaks and bright blue lakes; this national park has it all! It’s the perfect starting point for adventurous travellers who love to hike and cycle. One of the most beautiful hikes of New Zealand, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, goes through the park as well. When I was travelling through the Northern Island of New Zealand, I was lucky that I got the chance to hike a little of this impressive day hike. In this article I’ll tell you some more about the crossing and my own experience.
About the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
With its 19 kilometres length, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a though hike, but definitely worth the effort! The hike brings you over steep mountain peaks, through volcanic landscapes and colourful lakes. The day hike starts at the Mangatepopo carpark and ends at the Ketetahi carpark (like you can see on the map). It takes around 7-9 hours, depending on your condition and also on the weather conditions.
Because the hike is weather depended, it’s recommended to go with a guide. During the hike, the weather can change very quickly too. A guide is more experienced and can tell you when it’s better to go back when the weather gets bad. It’s also very important to dress yourself well. Be prepared for cold and windy weather; so dress yourself with layers. Also, take enough food and water with you. There are toilets on the way, but you should bring your own toilet paper.
I travelled to New Zealand for work and because we had quite a tight schedule, we didn’t had enough time to hike the whole track. I got a nice impression and made some beautiful photos, but on the other side I found it quite unfortunate that I didn’t had the chance to see the lakes.
We started early in the morning. The night before, we slept in Turangi, North from the Tongariro National Park. To the start of the track, it was around 20 minutes by car. At arrival, we were introduced to our guide; she explained us everything about the hike. We were going to walk 10 kilometres (5 kilometres of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and back).
At the start of the hike, it was still quite cloudy. It was only a little later when the sun came out and the views were even more beautiful! We hiked through volcanic landscapes and came across some waterfalls. The first part of the hike isn’t that though, since you don’t have to “climb” much. At the place we stopped and drank our morning tea, our guide told us that the hike got tougher from there on, because it’s the part with the Devil’s Staircase (here you need to climb more). We didn’t do this part, because we went back to the start of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
At the end I got a nice impression of the day hike, but I would definitely want to hike the whole track some day when I have some more time. The part of the crossing I hiked already was spectacular!
Where to stay?
There are many places which are nice to stay at around the Tongariro National Park. If travellers are planning on hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, they mostly stay at National Park Village or Whakapapa Village. These towns are located closely to the start of the day hike.
Other places you can stay at are Turangi (close to Lake Taupo as well), Horopito or Ohakune.
Other activities in and around the Tongariro National Park
Besides the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, there are many other hikes you can walk around the Tongariro National Park. Lots of them are shorter and easier to walk, this is also nice when you would like to hike for just one or two hours. All hiking possibilities can be found by clicking here.
You can also walk or cycle (by mountain bike) the Ohakune Old Coach Road; both are quite easy to do and definitely a nice trail. On the way, you come across an unique cobbled road, massive steel viaducts, a curved tunnel, railway bridge remains and old campsites. By clicking here you can find some more information about the trail.
Have you hiked the Tongariro Alpine Crossing? Share your experience with us in the comment section below!