Tongariro Crossing

Tongariro National Park was the first designated national park in New Zealand. A number of well-known hiking trails wind through this park, including the popular Tongariro Crossing, which will be described in this journal.


Tongariro Crossing

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Globe on November 30, 2003

Tongariro Crossing is the name of a famous one-day walk in Tongariro National Park. While much of New Zealand is known for its beautiful scenery, the landscape in the park was the most magnificent that I have seen so far in this country. This walk gives you close-up views of three volcanoes, one of which erupted as recently as 1995 and could blow again anytime.

Due to that and other eruptions, the land in this area is partly barren, or grows only certain types of grasses. I overheard many hikers comparing the view to what one might expect to see on the moon. In spite of the lack of vegetation, however, the ground is far from boring. Volcanic rocks and ash form much of the trail, and the colors vary from black and gray to red and orange.

Hiking the Tongariro Crossing takes most people about 7 hours, which includes a few breaks. The first and last 90 minutes of the hike are fairly flat, but the whole middle section is quite steep and requires a decent level of fitness. It´s worth the hardship, though, when you make it to the peak at the Red Crater and can see for miles in every direction.${QuickSuggestions} There are a few things to keep in mind while preparing for this walk:
-Weather - although I was extremely lucky with the weather on my hike, I have heard and read that at least a brief stint of rain is very likely during your trip. Also, as you climb higher and higher, it gets quite cold and extremely windy. Those factors would be compounded if you were stuck with wet clothes, so be prepared for the worst.
-Food and water - no food is available along the trail, so you need to carry whatever you will need. Water may be available at the two huts (one near the beginning and one near the end), but be prepared with plenty of your own.
-Sunscreen - even if the weather is cloudy, you should spread on the sunscreen often. The sun in New Zealand is extremely strange and dangerous, and the rays find their way through the clouds.
-Crowds - this hike is extremely popular, so you will probably be joining hundreds or thousands of other people if you walk during the warmer months. If you are looking for a solitary hike, this is not the one for you.${BestWay} The Tongariro Crossing is inaccessible by car, so strap on those hiking boots. Transportation to and from the track is very important, though. The track goes in one direction, so you need to arrange transportation with one of the commercial tour operators. These normally pick you up in a bus from your accommodation early in the morning and pick you up on the other side in the afternoon to take you home. A round-trip ticket costs about $25 from Turangi, and more or less depending on your distance from the park.


Turangi Cabins and Holiday Park

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Globe on November 30, 2003

Best Things Nearby:
This campground is about 55 kilometers from the start of the Tongariro Crossing in Tongariro National Park, and thus is popular with hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. Lake Taupo is also nearby, with a number of water sport possibilities, adventure activities like bungee jumping, and shorter walks.

Best Things About the Resort:
The campground has very friendly owners who will help you with any question or request. The facilities are also good, especially since the prices are so reasonable.

Resort Experience:
Turangi Holiday Park is a lovely campground in the central part of the North Island. Most of the property is filled with tiny two- and four-person cabins, which used to house workers for the power plant. Today, the property is owned by a friendly couple that takes care of your every need. In a two-person cabin, you will find two single beds, a heater, and a small table, and the cabin itself is about 10 feet by 8 feet. A central toilet and shower facility is not far from any cabin, as the buildings are close together. Even so, I never heard noise from any of our neighbors, and I found this to be a peaceful, relaxing accommodation. Although sheets and blankets are available, you get a cheaper rate if you bring your own. A large kitchen contains all necessary cooking utensils and dishes, plus a large refrigerator and storage space. The kitchen is connected to a dining room, large TV lounge, and a game room with a ping-pong table.

Turangi Cabins and Holiday Park
Ohuanga Road
Tongariro Mountain, New Zealand
(7) 386-8754

Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Globe on November 30, 2003

Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant is a good place to get a filling meal after losing all your energy on the Tongariro Crossing. The restaurant has an extensive menu of Chinese dishes, with a few Malaysian specialties as well. Meals are divided into the categories of different meats, with similar sauces used throughout the categories. For the reasonable prices, the portions are quite large. This restaurant is an example of the New Zealand BYO approach to dining. The restaurant does not serve alcohol, but if you want to bring your own bottle of wine, you are welcome to do so. However, the restaurant will charge one dollar per drinker.
Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant
Ohuanga Road
Tongariro Mountain, New Zealand

Brew Haus

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Globe on December 1, 2003

The Brew Haus is not exactly a nightclub or disco, but may be the best bet for nightlife in Turangi. There is a brewery on site that makes tasty pale, dark, and malt beer. The bar is located within a holiday park/hostel, so it is a popular spot for fellow travelers. You can relax on the couches or at a table, or if you have some energy left after the hike, you can play a game of pool or air hockey. A restaurant is located within the same building, but the bar serves lighter snacks like nachos and fish and chips. The atmosphere is friendly and lively, and is a good place to finish your day.
Brew Haus
Ohuanga Road
Tongariro Mountain, New Zealand

Take a Hike: Doing the Tongariro Crossing

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Globe on December 1, 2003

Tongariro National Park offers a number of walks, ranging from the four-day Northern Circuit to many quick jaunts. Probably the most popular, though, is the one-day Tongariro Crossing. The crowds may be daunting to those expecting a lonely trail, but you can just think that all those other people are sharing the amazing scenery with you. In this entry, I´ll give a short explanation of what you will see on the Tongariro Crossing. The trail is about 11 miles. The beginning and end are at relatively low altitudes, with a high peak in the middle. Almost everyone begins at the Mangatepopo Car Park and finishes at the Ketetahi Car Park. You can go the other way, but you will have to do a bit more climbing, and you will also be fighting the crowd the whole way. In many places, the track is only wide enough for one person, so this may be a frustrating option. For those who want a less crowded trip, you can start at Mangatepopo and follow the crowd up to the peak. Then have a leisurely lunch until only a few stragglers are passing the peak, and then head back to Mangatepopo in relative peace. If you do this, you won´t have to arrange transportation between the two points. Assuming you do what most people do, start at Mangatepopo and finish at Ketetahi, you will begin at an altitude of about 1150 meters. The first hour is pretty flat, and the ground is somewhat grassy. Mt. Ruapeha is visible at the start, and is the highest of the three volcanoes in the park. You will go by the Mangatepopo Hut, where you can stay and get an early start on your hike the next day. At the end of your walk through the Mangatepopo Valley, you will come to Soda Springs, which you can spot by a pretty waterfall off to the left of the track. This is the last chance for toilets for many hours, so plan carefully! Past Soda Springs, you have to work a little harder. The track becomes extremely steep, and you often have to use your hands to pull yourself from rock to rock, or at least to keep your balance. The rocks are loose, so be careful not to dislodge them, both for your own safety and that of the person right behind you. In this section, there is actually no set path - you just find your own way up. After about an hour of climbing, you reach the South Crater, where the ground levels off and the temperature drops, due to the altitude of 1650 meters. The crater is steaming, and the smell of sulphur is quite strong in points. The ground has interesting colors here, so enjoy this flat section and have a look around. The climb isn´t finished yet, though. When you leave the South Crater, you are faced with another daunting trek up the mountain, this time to the Red Crater, the highest point on the trail. Snow remains on this section for much of the year, so watch out for slick spots. When you reach the top, you realize that it was definitely worth the effort - the views are simply amazing. You can see into the Red Crater, and hundreds of miles beyond in every direction. For those who gain extra energy from the inspiring views, you can take a side trip from here to the peak of Mt. Tongariro. As you pass the peak and begin to descend, you are treated to a view of the Emerald Lakes, three small lakes that are turquoise in color due to their mineral properties. These are craters formed from previous explosions. Since this is about the halfway point, many people seemed to stop for a lunch break and enjoy the views. Once you are well-rested, you continue to the Blue Lake, another brilliant body of water which is considered to be sacred to the Maori people. Moving on, you will see North Crater, and from here, the walk begins on a steady, but not overly sharp, decline. The Ketetahi Springs offer another whiff of sulphur and steam, although you shouldn´t get too close because they are on private property. Soon you will come to the Ketatahi Hut, the other overnight accommodation option on the trail. If you would like to stay here, the beds are taken on a first-come, first-served basis, so don´t dawdle too much along the way. The trail comes to an end at the Ketatahi Car Park, where hordes of people lounge around to wait for their transportation and reflect on the amazing journey they have just completed!

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