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Tongariro Alpine Crossing

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is the best one-day hike in New Zealand and is regarded as one of the top ten single-day treks in the world.

The Department of Conservation encourage visitors to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing to book in advance. There is no cost to book. For more information, head here.  

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is the best one-day hike in New Zealand and is regarded as one of the top ten single-day treks in the world. Loved by locals and visitors alike, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is nestled in the magnificent UNESCO Dual World Heritage site of Tongariro National Park - globally recognised for both its cultural and natural significance and is also New Zealand’s oldest national park. With its unique terrain, spectacular views, otherworldly landscapes, volcanic peaks, and turquoise lakes, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing attracts hikers from around the world throughout the year as an unforgettable, one-of-a-kind destination experience.   


A sacred place 

A genuine wonder of the natural world and the crown jewel of Ruapehu, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a challenging journey across a remarkable volcanic landscape with incredible diversity and unique flora and fauna. From ancient lava flow, stunning emerald lakes, and alpine peaks this pristine environment is sacred to local iwi (Māori tribe) and it is advised that all waterways should not be entered or touched. 

Nearby villages and towns for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing 

The 20.2 km one-way hike, located in the beautiful Tongariro National Park, starts from the Mangatepopo Carpark just 20 minutes from National Park Village or Whakapapa Village, about 45-minutes from Raetihi, Ohakune or Taumarunui, and a 90-minute drive from Lake Taupō township. Offering a variety of fantastic accommodation, dining, and activities nearby, visitors are invited to connect with our local communities who are proud to call the Ruapehu region home.  

Tongariro Alpine Crossing shuttles

Each year between October and the 30th of April, there is a four-hour time restriction for private vehicles at the Mangatepopo Road-end. This gives visitors time to enjoy short walks like the Soda Spring track, but people wanting to do the entire hike, which takes an average of 7-8 hours, will need to use shuttle transport. There is a fantastic range of local shuttle operators to choose from. 


There are several local shuttle transport operators to assist you with getting to and from the track start and finish with some who also offer pick up from nearby accommodation as well as one-way and return shuttles for a variety of local hikes including the NZ Great Walk Tongariro Northern Circuit, the Round the Mountain Track, and other shorter local hikes. You may also connect with one of Manaaki Rangers at the start of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing track to welcome you and help with bookings as part of the sustainable visitor management for Tongariro National Park.

The Tiaki Promise 

Please look after the beauty of Our Greater Outdoors and what you can do to support the Tiaki Promise to protect and preserve our people and place. Stay on the trail, don't contribute to the erosion of natural habitats, and leave no trace. What you take in, you take out. Happy hiking! 

** Please remember this is a hike in an alpine environment in which we recommend you use a guide.The weather is changeable, ice and snow are present throughout the year ** 


How do I get to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing? 

The best way to get to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is by shuttle. Shuttle services run from all local towns, you can arrange your shuttle here or by ringing the local ISITE's:  

Ohakune ISITE +64 6 385 8427

Taumarunui ISITE +64 7 895 7494 

Can I bike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing? 

No, you cannot bike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. It is an offence under the Tongariro National Park bylaws (1981) to use a vehicle, including a bicycle, off of formed roads. 

Are dogs allowed? 

Dogs are not allowed within the Tongariro National Park boundaries or the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. 

What should I wear? 

We have a comprehensive list of what to wear and pack which you can find here. 

How long will it take to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing? 

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is 20.2 km long. Please prepare to be away for 7 - 8 hours, we recommend letting people know where you're going and when you plan on being back. Head to Plan My Walk for more information. 

What is the best time of the year to go? 

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is beautiful all year round, however in winter we strongly recommend going with a guide as there will be snow and ice on the trail. For more information head here. 

How much elevation will there be? 

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing begins at 1120 with the highest point reached with the ascent to the Red Crater at 1886 m.  

Am I ready for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing? 

The unique alpine environment of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing makes this a challenging yet rewarding one-day hike. Watch the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council walk-through video here which outlines how to prepare for the track, facilities as well as hazards and typical conditions for the area. 

Are there multi-day hikes in Tongariro?

For adventurous hikers, you can tackle Tongariro Great Walk - the Northern Circuit which offers a larger variety of landscapes and vegetation compared to the Alpine Crossing. You can complete it in 3-4 days with overnight stays in the huts. As an option, you can venture to the Mount Ruapehu area and try the Round the Mountain track in Tongariro which usually takes 4-5 days to complete. Both hikes offer amazing views of rugged mountains in the area.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing Elevation - Visit Ruapehu.png

Have a look at the 6 different sections you'll come across over the day.

  1. Mangatepopo Car Park to Soda Springs

    Grade: Easy - allow 1-1.5hrs.

    You will be dropped off here by your shuttle. There are toilet facilities at the start of the track, then again around 20 minutes from the start. The first section is relatively flat and gives you a chance to warm up for the day ahead. Near the head of the Mangatepopo Valley, a 15-minute return sidetrack leads to the Soda Springs.

  1. Soda Springs to South Crater

    Grade: Moderate Difficult allow 45mins-1hr.

    This section of the track hosts the "Devil's Staircase" which is a tough climb, rising 200 metres in a short distance. The track surface here is crossing lava flows and other volcanic debris so take care to adjust to the different walking surfaces.

  2. South Crater to Red Crater

    Grade: Moderate Difficult allow 1 hour.

    A welcomed flat stretch here, followed by a rise on an exposed ridge to Red Crater, the highest and most exposed point of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing with stunning views wherever you look.

  3. Red Crater to Blue Lake

    Grade: Moderate 30 minutes.

    This section will leave you speechless as the turquoise lakes become visible. The descent from Red Crater needs to be taken carefully, with loose scoria [scree] on a steep descent meaning you could lose your footing. The track then follows around the edge of the central crater, and climbs back up to Blue Lake, which is a cold acidic lake. The lake is sacred so please do not touch it, swim in it or eat around its edges.

  4. Blue Lake to Ketetahi Hut

    Grade: Moderate - 1 hour.

    To the right of Blue Lake, you will see Emerald Lake and will be able to smell the sulphurous odour coming from around the lake. Again the lake is sacred so please do not touch the water. After a short climb, you will be on the edge of the North Crater, again with stunning views of the central plateau, then you will head down to the Ketetahi hut, which has toilet facilities should you need them.

  5. Ketetahi Hut to Ketetahi Carpark

    Grade: Moderate - allow 2 hours.

    The track crosses the stream here that flows down from the Ketetahi Springs, please note the springs are on private land and you must keep to the track. Follow the marked track down through the open tussock and down through the bush to the Ketetahi carpark and your ride.

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