What: The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a sensational 19km, 7-8 hour hike through stark volcanic landscape - straight out of Lord of the Rings.
Traversing volcanic craters, thermal lakes and lava flows, the crossing is a challenging journey that - while steep in sections - is well worth the scenic rewards. You’ll see blue and green emerald lakes, the cones of Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Tongariro as well as active steam vents and old lava flows.
Where: Located in the Tongariro National Park, a dual world heritage area. Home to several of New Zealand’s most active volcanoes, Tongariro covers over 80,000 hectares and is an environment of stunning diversity that includes native forest, alpine meadows, hot springs and lava flows.
When: Although the track is open year-round, the best time to do the crossing is in either Autumn or Spring. Summer is the peak hiking season for New Zealand and there are over 500 people per day walking the track at this time - something to be avoided if possible!
In the Winter, snow and ice cover much of the route, and crampons are compulsory. So choose to complete the hike in either Autumn and Spring when the weather is more settled and (being the shoulder season) there are less hikers to contend with.
Why: Exploring some of the most dramatic and awe-inspiring scenery, the feeling of accomplishment upon completion is well worth the pain of doing it - if not to be able to say you’ve walked through the real-life Mordor, and crossed the base of a live volcano.