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.
2. 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 surface.
3. 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.
4. Red Crater to Blue Lake
Grade: Moderate 30 minutes
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.
5. Blue Lake to Ketetahi Hut
Grade: Moderate - 1 hour
To the right of Blue Lake you will see the Emerald Lake, and will be able to smell the sulphorous 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.
6. 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.