The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is located in the Tongariro National Park at the North Island in New Zealand. This popular hiking site was awarded the distinction for being of both cultural and natural significance. It could take 9-10 hours to walk the entire circuit.

From June to October, expect to see snow and ice. Those who want to hike during this time should hire a guide or have experience hiking in these conditions. It is safer for beginners and non-experts to schedule a trek from November to May. The absence of ice and snow may decrease the risk for accidents, but beginners are still advised to hire a guide.


The Two Crossings

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a very popular hiking destination. On a single trip, one can witness the beauty of the volcanic peaks of Ngauruhoe, Tongariro, and Ruapehu, among other magnificent sites that the Tongariro National Park has to offer.

Mount Tongariro

Mount Tongariro is a volcano with multiple craters. It is sometimes called a “compound volcano” for this reason. One of its vents, Ngauruhoe, is considered active because of some volcanic activity—the last of which was in 1975.

Geologists have detected volcanic activity in other craters (the most recent one being an eruption in Te Mari in 2012; the last time was in 1897), but none as frequent as Ngauruhoe. Scientists and rangers consistently monitor Mount Tongariro’s volcanic activity for the safety of tourists and residents in nearby areas.

The Tongariro Crossing

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a 19-kilometer hike over Mount Tongariro, which takes hikers through lakes, forests, and other wonderful sites. The Tongariro Crossing draws tourists who enjoy nature hikes. However, this hike is not that simple. Hikers must come prepared no matter which time of year they go to the Tongariro Crossing. There are different ways to prepare for the hike, and it depends on when the hikers schedule their trip.

The Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre is the best place to go regarding inquiries. Below are some tips:

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The Two Seasons

The Tongariro Crossing welcomes hikers all year round. Either way, many preparations for the hike have to be made due to the trail’s harsh weather conditions and difficulty.

During the Winter

Hiking through snow and ice during the winter months (June to October) is risky, so extensive preparation is required even for experienced hikers. One cannot rule out the possibility of avalanches, slippery slopes, and low visibility due to clouds and fog. It is best to have training in first aid and emergency response before embarking on this hike. During winter, the average temperature can have an average high of 13 degrees and a low of up to -10 degrees.

Preparing for the Hike:

  • Dedicate about 10 hours for the entire walk.
  • Check the weather updates to know what time the sun goes down.
  • For hikers’ safety, it is best to be back before dark because they will lose visibility and likely have a more challenging time once the temperature drops significantly.
  • Prepare an outfit and gears appropriate for windy and icy conditions.
  • Dress in lightweight layers.
  • Bring an ice ax, crampons, and a helmet.

Because hikers will go through significant amounts of precipitation, they have to be careful about slipping. Most injuries that happen in winter hikes are due to slipping.

During the Summer

Hikers scheduled to go in the summer months should prepare for quick and severe weather changes. It’s not uncommon to hear about snow falling in the summer and heavy rains disrupting people’s plans. Volcanic risks and warnings are present throughout the year because the Tongariro Crossing has seen some volcanic activity in recent years. However, all this effort and preparation is worth it because views of lava flows, steaming vents, vegetation, and craters await curious hikers.

Preparations Required:

  • Wear protective gear and wear lightweight clothing that can be layered. Pack a windbreaker and a torch, just in case.

Arrangements Needed

Before going to the Tongariro Crossing, it is best to coordinate with the Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre to get updates on the weather conditions, the latest schedules, and other preparations. It might be closed on certain days for cleanup, maintenance, or holidays.

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Other Attractions

The Tongariro National Park offers other activities such as snowboarding, fly fishing, paddle boarding, and mountain biking. This is probably why people keep coming back to Tongariro—it’s a haven for outdoor sports lovers!

Mount Tongariro and its surrounding areas were used as a location for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Some film enthusiasts and fans of the series have even found their way to the sites.

Where to Stay

The Tongariro Crossing is surrounded by hotels, resorts, and lodges. There are accommodations for every type of visitor. Rates may change due to seasons and availability.

The Plateau Lodge is located within the National Park Village. The hotel offers a variety of rooms. It is a good choice for those who wish to make the most out of the stay at Tongariro National Park.

  • Bedroom Apartment – $157
  • Studio Pod – from $108
  • Double Ensuite – from $87
  • Standard Double Twin – from $60

Parklands Motor Lodge is a hotel near the Tongariro National Park. The hotel has a game room, a playground, and a swimming pool.

  • One-Bedroom Unit (up to 4 people) – $115
  • Double Bed Studio – $101

The Park Hotel Ruapehu is located near the Tongariro National Park. They offer various tour packages for guests. The hotel has restaurants, outdoor hot tubs, and conference facilities. It’s known to be a quaint facility with good value-for-money offerings.

  • Twin Room – from $87
  • King Room – from $87
  • Family Mezzanine – from $87
  • Quad Mezzanine – from $87
  • Super Family Room – from $121

The Tongariro Crossing is a challenging hike. It is still quite popular for hikers and nature lovers because it’s easy to plan and prepare for. Planning the trip is a breeze with the assistance of offices like the Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre. After all, returning hikers know that going through all of that effort is worth getting glimpses of the beautiful views and peaceful environment.

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