The crossing is a full day hike across a spectacular volcanic landscape. Along the way you pass lava flows, an active crater and some beautiful emerald lakes. The views from the track are stunning and make this one of the 'must do' hikes in New Zealand.
As with any hike in New Zealand, you must always be prepared for any kind of weather. The Tongariro Crossing is no exception. The crossing leads across exposed alpine terrain and can be subject to extreme weather conditions. The following is an list of items that should be considered when attempting the crossing:
In the winter an ice axe, crampons and snow gaiters should also be considered
The track starts at the Mangatepopo road end and leads up the Mangatepopo valley. After 30 minutes a turn-off to the Mangapetoto Hut is reached. The track leads on climbing slightly up the valley past old lava flows.
Along the way the Soda Springs are passed - a side track leads to them. The track then climbs steeply up to the Mangatepopo Saddle between Mt. Tongariro and Mt. Ngauruhoe. At the saddle, a side track leads up Mt. Ngauruhoe for a three hour excursion. The main track leads on across the South Crater.
On the other side of South Crater, the track leads up a ridge to the active Red Crater. A two hour side trip from the top of the ridge leads to Mt. Tongariro.
The track carries on to the top of the Red Crater, the highest point on the track. From here you descend towards the beautiful Emerald Lakes, their colour caused by minerals from the adjacent thermal area.
The track forks near the lakes, the right branch being the Tongariro Northern Circuit leading to Oturere Hut, whilst the crossing continues to the left towards the Blue Lake.
Past Blue Lake the track drops down to Ketetahi Hut, which has a spectacular view northwards. Ketetahi Springs are near the hut, but are on private land and access is restricted - please respect the rights of the landowners.
From the hut the track descends to below the bushline. This last section of the crossing providing a lovely contrast to the rest of the tramp as you pass through the forest.
The crossing will take 7 to 8 hours, not including any side trips
As the crossing is not a circuit, transport to and from the track must be arranged. Various transport services are available at Whakapapa Village for the crossing.