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Tongariro Alpine Crossing Guide

  • 2 minutes

Turangi tour operators & excursions

Tongariro National Park & the Tongariro crossing

You’ve probably viewed clips of the beauty of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Your imagination is fired by the Lord of the Rings film trilogy and the mountain that depicts Mt Doom. The idea of walking past volcanic lakes emerald green, rich with minerals is on your #nzmustdo list. You want to view Tongariro’s steaming vents. Tongariro’s luner landscape, the rugged jagged alpine ridges is one of the world’s best day walks and it’s on your bucket list.

Here’s how to make the Tongariro Alpine Crossing happen.

Tongariro crossing in winter, mount Ngauruhoe, the great walk, New Zealand, Tonagriro National park
Tongariro crossing in winter, mount Ngauruhoe, the great walk, New Zealand, Tonagriro National park

Tongariro National Park is home to one of New Zealand’s Great Walks,

Tongariro Alpine Crossing. The active volcanic Central North Island Plateau is a challenge with a rugged alpine landscape and the sense of the earth’s hidden core of fire and heat. The mountains are where skiers and snowboarders descend in winter. In summer Tongariro National Park is a walking and hiking bucket list destination.

Visitors do not need to necessarily hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing to enjoy the magic of the Tongariro National Park. There are some very easy short walks as well as the option of a half day hike with a guide.

The best months to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is between November to April. During the southern hemisphere winter months (May to November) heavy snow and ice is a hazard to trampers. In winter hike with an accredited alpine hiking company as it is likely you will need crampons and ice axes.

Mount Ngauruhoe near Whakapapa skifield at Hotel Chateau, Tongariro National Park, New Zealand
Mount Ngauruhoe near Whakapapa skifield at Hotel Chateau, Tongariro National Park, New Zealand

The cheapest transport option for the Tongariro Crossing is to park your car at one end of the track and take a one-way shuttle either to or from the other end of the track. There are two ends of the Tongariro Crossing track: the “Mangatepopo Car Park” and “Ketetahi Car Park”

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is located in the Tongariro National Park, central plateau North Island, New Zealand. The Tongariro National Park has dual World Heritage status for both cultural (Maori) and scenic beauty.

You need to be able to walk 20 km in a rugged environment to successfully finish the Tongariro Crossing. There are numerous steep climbs and descends, stairs and uneven terrain.




Scroll through the detailed instructions on what to take on your day hike of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing on Tongariro Alpine Crossing | Plan Your Trip.

There are toilets at the Mangatepopo Road end (the start of the Crossing), the Mangatepopo Hut, Soda Springs, (start of the devils staircase), Ketetahi Hut and the Ketetahi Road end (the finish of the Crossing). Check out Have you tried The Tongariro Alpine Crossing? For details as well as essential information about a successful safe hike.

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is well known for its Devil’s Staircase. The Devil’s Staircase is difficult as it has 370 steep steps, starting at an elevation of 1400 metre and the top of the staircase in 1600 metres.

You cannot stay overnight on the Tongariro Crossing. There are no huts on the day walk. Many hikers stay in either Whakapapa or Turangi.




IF the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is CLOSED due to poor weather explore the short walks around Whakapapa Village. A highlight is the 20 metre Taranaki falls. Walk through tussock and ancient lava flows on a 6 km (one way) track. What to explore further then continue on to Tama Lakes.

The top sights closeby the Tongariro Alpine Crossing include the Tongariro River trails, either hike, cycle and wander and pop into the National Trout Centre along the way. Nearby is the resort town of Taupo and it’s likely you are staying in Turangi.

Tongariro river trail’s top attraction is the multiple entry points offering plenty of opportunities to explore the trail for 30 minutes (short walk) or walk the entire 15 km trail.

Tongariro River walks, New Zealand
Tongariro River walks, New Zealand
  • Trail follows the Tongariro River through farmland, native bush
  • From suburban homes and backyards to beautiful river views
  • Excitement of suspension bridges and the prospect of swimming holes
  • Enjoy the sight of fly fishing and consider whether to give fly fishing a go
  • Dog friendly (on a leash)
  • Shared trail (mountain bikes with buggies on the same pathway)
  • Places to visit along the trail, Tongariro National Trout Centre & river banks where whio (New Zealand endangered blue duck) might be inhabiting
  • World class wild trout fishing on the Tongariro River

read more

Travel pack information

New Zealand mountain safety council


  • Superb video from Have you tried The Tongariro Alpine Crossing? ‘The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is one of the most incredible day hikes in the world. Although beautiful, it can be dangerous if you are not fully prepared to enter an alpine environment. Extreme weather, terrain and distance have resulted in this track having the highest number of search and rescues for trampers in New Zealand.’
  • Tongariro Alpine Crossing fact sheet



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