Tongariro Crossing


The Tongariro Crossing is said to be the best day walk in New Zealand. It covers a part of the first National Park of New Zealand. The three volcanic peaks here, Mount Ruapehu, Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Tongariro were donated by the Maori to the state of New Zealand, to 'be of all the people'. The Tongariro Crossing is a very popular walk. In summer around 500 people walk here every day.

Steep climb

Difficult to feel lonely

You are brought to the start by bus, so everybody arrives in a short period. It's not possible to feel lonely here. It is a strenuous walk: 7 to 8 hours, 800 meters up and 1,200 meters down. The English lady we met early on the day and again in the restaurant in the evening was very sorry she ever started.

There are many markers

Although the landscape is barren all the way, it is surprisingly divers. The area served in the Lord of the Rings as Mordor and Mount Doom, a well chosen spot.

After leaving the Red crater behind, the Emerald lakes come into view. In the background the Blue lake is already visible. We had great weather during our trip: most people have clouds at this height, so there is not much of a view. If you are here with not so great weather, the DoC recommends a walk to the Waihohonu hut, between the Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe. This walk is more sheltered.

Descending to the Emerald Lakes

Loose gravel makes it quite tough

The first part of the descent is tricky: lots of loose gravel and pretty steep. The Emerald lakes are a fine place for lunch: about half way, and with most of the ascent done.

 The Red Cater

You can't drink the water from the Emerald Lakes, so you have to bring your own. On a very hot day like this, we had to carry lots and lots of water. We had 7 litres, and needed it !

Great views, beautiful volcanoes

A look back from the central crater to the Red crater and mount Ngauruhoe. The area here is, after the first bit from the car park, about the only flat piece of the track. After all the climbing we really appreciated that.

 A stream with coloured rocks

Just starting the way down, you have a great view at Lake Rotoaira. In the distance you can make out Lake Taupo.

Lake Rotoaira and Lake Taupo

Ketetahi Hot Springs

The way down just seems to last and last. We did not have much practice for walking downhill in our Dutch mountains (right, there are none), and the steps are very heavy. The last bit of the way goes through a forest, which gave some shadow and a nice stream to walk along. Again: the water is not potable. People who brought not enough water, walk thirsty along this cool stream, and wait thirsty on the car park for the bus. The next day we needed our walking poles another time, now to give the sore muscles in our calves some rest.

A stream near the end of the hike