There are a number of starting points for the Tongariro Northern Circuit Great Walk, but far the most accessible and popular is Whakapapa Village itself. Whakapapa is situated 10 kilometers down a well sign-posted side road off State Highway 47. It's 80 kilometres from Waiouru on State Highway 1 to the south and 100 from Taupo to north. There's plenty of accommodation at the village including the famous Grand Chateau. The main DOC visitor centre is also in the village, where you can get weather updates and buy hut tickets for the tramp.Tramp Description
It's always best to check with DOC at the Whakapapa Visitor Centre about the current weather forecast before you set out as I discovered. Despite my own checking of the weather forecast and selection of an alternative trip, DOC advised me to complete the route in an anti-clockwise direction, starting with Waihohonu Hut. This actually turned out to be great advice as I ended up with an absolutely stunning day for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
I had four days to complete the circuit, but you can do it in three especially if you miss out the section between Whakapapa Village amd Mangatepopo Hut. I even met some hardy souls who were completing it in two days!
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing section of the tramp will be very busy, the other sections a lot quieter, so consequently Mangatepopo Hut may well be packed including the camp site there.
All the huts have cooking facilities and the usual bunks and mattresses. There is a warden at each hut as well, to keep an eye on things and check your tickets. Please do book in advance, I met a number of people who did not have tickets or thought their Annual Hut pass covered the walk. Fortunately room at the huts was not at a premium and we could squeeze extras in but having tramped a whole day the last thing you want is a hut warden to turn you away.
Some parts of the tramp are steep, especially the section from Oturere Hut to the top of Red Crater when going anti-clockwise. Conversely the climb up from Mangatepopo Hut to Red Crater will be steep when completing the circuit in the opposite direction. Although I did not tramp to Ketetahi Hut, I have heard the climb from the hut up to the Blue Lake is also quite steep. However none of the route is particularly difficult and anyone of good fitness should be able to complete the tramp.Day One - Whakapapa Village to Waihohonu Hut >>>
New Waihohonu Hut