The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is an incredible 19km journey through the Tongariro National Park, a UNESCO Dual World Heritage Park recognised for its spiritual and cultural significance as well as its outstanding volcanic features. The trail takes in some of the most dramatic landscapes you will ever see — cold mountain springs, ancient lava flows, steam vents and the spectacular Emerald Lakes.
This challenging trip begins at 1120m above sea level, climbs the Mangatepōpō Valley to the saddle between Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe, through South Crater before climbing again to Red Crater, the highest point on the crossing at 1886m.
You will then descend on a volcanic rock scree track to the vivid Emerald Lakes, known as Ngarotopounamu (greenstone-hued lakes). After passing Blue Lake, also known as Te Wai-whakaata-o-te-Rangihiroa (Rangihiroa’s mirror), the track sidles around the northern slope of Tongariro, then descends in a zigzag track past Ketetahi Shelter and down to the road end at 760m.
Getting to the track
The track is a one way 19.4km hike that takes 7–8 hours (allow for a full day). It starts at Mangatepōpō Road end and ends at Ketetahi Road end. The best way to get to the start of the track is by shuttle. You can arrange transport through the Taupō i-SITE or Turangi i-SITE or see the list of operators below.
If you must drive, there are parking restrictions in place at both road ends. There is a four-hour parking limit at the Mangatepōpō Road and restricted parking at Ketetahi Road end.
Important tips and advice
Don't underestimate alpine environments, they are subject to severe weather conditions - please check the weather conditions with i-SITE staff.
- A reasonable level of fitness is required
- Allow 7-8 hours (a full day) for your hike - be prepared for a long and challenging day out
- Wear good footwear and take warm and waterproof clothing.
- Take plenty of food and drink
- Book a transport shuttle
- Book with a guide if you are unsure or need to hire gear
- Please use the toilets provided - toilets are located every 1.5 hours along the track
- Drones are not permitted to be flown in the Tongariro National Park
Tongariro Alpine Crossing in Winter
In winter, you can expect snow and ice, avalanche risks, and sub-zero temperatures on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
You need special skills and preparation to complete the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in winter. An ice axe and crampons are essential, as is competency using them.
If you’re a well-prepared, competent winter alpine tramper, it can be a fantastic experience. If you aren’t experienced and equipped for alpine travel, choose another track. Find out more about hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in winter here.
Tongariro National Park is a dual World Heritage Area and the first in the world to receive cultural World Heritage status. The alpine lakes and peaks of the mountains are sacred to the local Māori tribe Ngāti Hikairo ki Tongariro. Respectfully, they ask that peaks are not climbed and waterways are not to be touched.
|Time||7 - 8 hours (allow full day)|
|Transport & guides||Yes. Please see below.|
|Dog access||No dogs|