Known as New Zealand’s greatest day walk, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing traverses 19km of challenging volcanic landscape. Beginning at Whakapapa, you’ll negotiate old lava flows as you climb alongside re-established plant life. At the head of the valley are the Soda Springs - a desert oasis of yellow buttercups and white foxgloves.
The track continues across the Mangatepopo Saddle with panoramic views of Mt Ngauruhoe and the volcanic surround - Mt Ngauruhoe can be climbed as a three hour return side-trip, but an above average level of fitness is needed! Onwards to the ‘Red Crater’ a strong smell of sulphur becomes apparent - a reminder that this one is active.
As the track descends, three water-filled explosion craters, The Emerald Lakes, can be seen. Stained a brilliant green and blue by thermal minerals that have leeched from the surrounding area, these unusual water features are a highlight of the walk.
After passing the North Crater, the descent continues through tussocks and scree to the forest line where you’ll complete the final leg of your journey. Going this direction, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing takes seven to eight hours.
The Tongariro Crossing is located in the Tongariro National Park in the Central North Island. The nearest town is Ohakune.
Those with a moderate level of fitness and an eye for adventure! While you certainly don't need to be super fit, to get the most out of the crossing, you should be able to walk at least one hour up an incline comfortably. There are two challenging climbs on the track, each taking up to one hour to complete.
The oldest person to walk the Crossing was 94 years old!