Our Journey into the Tongariro National Park takes us to Tama Lakes

Looking for a short journey - the Tama Lakes trek covers all in an 5-6 hours hike. Ahead of you are majestic views, diverse landscapes with cultural significance and landscape of colour.A lesser-known hidden gem in Ruapehu, the Tama Lakes Track is ideal for intrepid explorers looking for a spectacular day hike in the heart of Tongariro National Park – a UNESCO Dual World Heritage site of natural and cultural significance.

The stunning Tama Lakes Track gives you a taste of a New Zealand Great Walk with parts of the track forming the Tongariro Northern Circuit – one of two New Zealand Great Walks you can experience in Ruapehu.

With otherworldly volcanic terrain and alpine landscapes unique to Ruapehu, along with panoramic views of Mt Ngāuruhoe and Mt Ruapehu, the Tama Lakes Track is a must-do for an unforgettable one-day hike that is often a great alternative to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and perfect for those looking for a world-class hike that’s a bit under the radar.

Fast facts:

  • 17. 6 km return via the same track

  • 5-6 hr return

  • Advanced track

  • Highest viewpoint at 1,440 metres

Tama Lakes Credit @Tom Harris  (2).jpg

Photo taken by Tom Harris

How to get to the Tama Lakes Track

With the same starting and finishing points, the Tama Lakes Track is best accessed from Whakapapa Village in Ruapehu with ample day parking available. There are several accommodation options within walking distance to the start of the Tama Lakes Track so you can base yourself in the heart of Tongariro National Park and wake up with world-class walking tracks at your doorstep. To begin, start on the Taranaki Falls Walking Track which is located 100 m below the Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre in Whakapapa Village along State Highway 48. The Tama Lakes Track later connects to a part of the Tongariro Northern Circuit so you get to experience a section of an official New Zealand Great Walk.


  • Take in the impressive Taranaki Falls

  • Traverse moon-like volcanic terrain

  • Enjoy majestic views of Mt Ngāuruhoe and Mt Ruapehu

  • Alpine streams and herb fields

  • Pass ancient lava flows and undulating tussock country

“I’ve done the Tama Lakes Track hundreds of times – as a guide, on my own, with mates and family. What astounds me the most about this hike is not only the unique, breath-taking alpine landscape but the actual event that created them. Erupted vents caused the formation of the Tama Lakes, as well as the emerald and blue lakes on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. There’s nothing quite like the sight of these sacred lakes as you ascend Tama Saddle with the humbling realisation of how they came to be,” Stew Barclay, AdriftTongariro NZ

Tama Lakes CREDIT@FrametheadventureNZ.jpg

Photo taken by FrametheadventureNZ


The alpine environment around Tama Lakes means unpredictable weather all-year-round, even during the summer months. Tama Saddle acts as a funnel for strong westerly winds so windproof clothing is recommended. Monitor the weather for the Upper Tama Lake on the NIWA website before you start your hike and check in with local Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre for tips and updates. The New Zealand Mountain Safety Council website has a wealth of resources and information for your safety including the Plan My Walk app as well as useful track alerts from the Department of Conservation.

Caring for our people, our place and our culture is a way of life in Ruapehu so make sure to read up on the Tiaki Promise and how you can make a positive difference during your visit.

What to bring

  • Plenty of water

  • Snacks and food

  • Sturdy walking shoes or boots

  • First aid kit

  • Sunhat, sunscreen, and sunglasses

  • Gloves

  • Warm hat

  • Windproof, waterproof jacket

  • Personal locator beacon

You can read more about how to prepare for your Tama Lakes journey on the Plan My Walk app which also includes a recommended gear list.

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Accommodation near the Tama Lakes Track

If you want to wake up in the heart of Tongariro National Park with its world-class walking tracks at your doorstep, then you can choose from several accommodation providers in and around Whakapapa Village. From holiday parks to backpackers, and alpine resorts, there’s a variety of fabulous accommodation options to base your explorations in and around the Tama Lakes Track with options in Whakapapa Village, National Park Village, and surrounds.

With fresh mountain air, wide-open spaces, and dark starry skies, staying local is definitely the way to go and makes it super easy to explore the incredible network of walking, hiking and mountain biking tracks in the area. Make sure to pop in to some of the delicious cafes and restaurants in Whakapapa Village and National Park Village to refuel.

Things to do near the Tama Lakes Track

A fantastic network of wonderful walks to waterfalls and unique geological wonders as well as over 400 km of mountain bike trails are just some of the activities you can enjoy in the area. Sky Waka is NZ’s longest, most advanced gondola ride and is an extraordinary experience to enjoy in the area – about a 10 minutes drive from Whakapapa Village up Bruce Road on Mt Ruapehu. Read more about Whakapapa Village here.

If you’re keen to experience the phenomenal Tama Lakes Track, then get in touch with one of our local accommodation providers to make this hiking holiday come true for you.

Tama Lakkes CREDIT @Tom Harris  (1).jpg

Photo taken by Tom Haris

View Of Upper Tama Lake B - Visit Ruapehu.jpg

Ruapehu through your eyes

Posted by on 23 May 2022