Tongariro National Park Walks
The Tongariro National Park has Dual World Heritage status and the Northern Circuit is part of the Department of Conservation Great Walks network. The three active andesitic volcanoes, Mt Tongariro (1967m), Mt Ngauruhoe (2291m) and Mt Ruapehu (2797m), are majestic and dominate the National Park. The Tongariro area has grown over the last 300,000 years and was formed from many different eruptions from at least six cones. Intense volcanic activity and retreating glaciers from the ice age, have all left amazing textures, colours and landscapes with the many stories of fire and ice to tell.
Adrift has experienced and personable guides who will provide you with a safe, enjoyable and memorable adventure of the Tongariro area. We look forward to showing off beautiful New Zealand at its best!
Tongariro Alpine Crossing Route
(sunrise tours mostly return to the start from Red Crater so we can see the wonderful views we passed by in the early hours previously this morning)
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing spans the length of Mt Tongariro (19.4Ks) and takes about 7-8 hours to complete. The walk starts at Mangatepopo (1100m), and commences at Ketetahi (750m). The highest point on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is Red Crater (1886m).
Mangatepopo to Soda Springs
Grade: Easy - allow 1 - 1 and a half hours
At the Mangatepopo carpark is a shelter and toilet facilities. This first section of the track is fairly flat. The track is well formed and board walked in damper parts. About 20 minutes from the car park is a sidetrack to the Mangatepopo Hut, and toilet facilities.
The main track continues up the valley following the Mangatepopo stream and around the edge of old lava flows.
It is interesting to notice the change in plants as you climb in altitude. At Soda Springs are the last toilet facilities until you get to the Ketetahi Hut.
Soda Springs to South Crater
Grade: Moderate Difficult allow 40 minutes to an hour
This section is steep - climbing from 1400 up to 1600 metres above sea level and is known as the devils staircase. Take your time - slow and steady is the best way to conquer this section.
On a clear day the view down the valley and out across the surrounding countryside is well worth it! You may even see Mt Taranaki, another volcano on the western horizon.
Take care as you are walking over layers of ancient and modern lava flows and other volcanic debits so the track surface is not smooth.
South Crater to Red Crater
Grade: Moderate Difficult allow 1 hour
It is great to be on the flat, but once you have crossed South Crater there is another short climb on an exposed ridge. The track follows the ridge to Red Crater.
If you have plenty of time you can make the decision to summit Tongariro.
The main track continues around Red Crater. You have spectacular views over the Oturere Valley, Rangipo Desert, Kaimanawa Ranges and down to the Emerald Lakes.
Red Crater to Blue Lake
Grade: Moderate 30 minutes
Care is required with the descent from Red Crater, as this part of the track is steep and
you are on loose scoria which can move under foot.
To the left you will see an old lava flow from Red Crater spreading out across the floor of The Tongariro Northern Circuit track to Otureree Hut branches off just past the lowest Emerld Lake. The Tongariro Crossing track follows around the edge of Central Crater then climbs up to Blue Lake (A cold acidic lake). The lake is tapu (sacred)
and it is disrespectful to eat or drink around its shores.central crater. To the right are the Emerald Lakes. Minerals leached from the surrounding rock cause the brillant emerald colour. The steam vents above the lake are responsible for the sulphurous smell.
Top photo; View from Red Crater down the Emerald Lakes, Central Crater and Blue Lake
Bottom photo; View from Central Crater looking back towards Red Crater and Mt Ngauruhoe
Blue Lake to Ketetahi Hut
Grade Moderate - 1 hour
There is a short easy climb to the edge of North Crater. This crater was once filled with molten lava which then cooled and solidified giving a level surface more than 1000m wide.
In good weather there are spectacular views out over Mt Pihanga and Lake Rotoaira to Lake Taupo.
You then zigzag your way down to the Ketetahi Hut through the natural alpine garden. Ketetahi Hut has toilet facilities.
In the photo above; The view of Mt Rotoaira and towards Lake Taupo
Ketetahi Hut to Ketetahi Carpark
Grade: Moderate - two hours
The track crosses the stream that flows down from Keteahi Hot Springs and the rocks are stained interesting colours from the minerals in the water.
The track leads through open tussock land to a clearing with some seats. At this point the track drops steeply to the Mangatetipua Stream and thourgh native forest for about and hour and a half. There is a short sidetrack leading to a waterfall a few minutes before reaching the Ketetahi carpark.
The Ketetahi carpark has a shelter, toilets and a refreshment from Adrift waithing for you.
Map of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Lord of the Rings Tours & Locations
Stewart worked with the LOTR cast and crew for 8 weeks whilst they were filming in this spectacular region and whilst we don't run specific LOTR tours unless requested, all of our tours pass through LOTR country including Modor Mt Doom, the Plains of Rohan and Gollums pool.
All our guides are fully conversant and knowledgeable with where these locations appear in the movies and have great personal experiences to share as a result of working with all the lead actors.....