The Tongariro Northern Circuit is easy to get to by private car or public transport. Whakapapa Village is the start and finish point for the Circuit.
Public transport options
There are two bus services and one train service that stop at or near Whakapapa Village, on route between Auckland and Wellington. If you stop at nearby National Park Village, there are local shuttle services available for transfers up to Whakapapa Village.
Commercial operators for Tongariro National Park also provide relevant services.
Track access points
There is a parking area in the village. It is approximately a 3 hour walk to Mangatepopo Hut, or a 5-6 hour walk to Waihohonu Hut.
From the parking area at the end of Mangatepopo road, it is approximately a 30 minute walk to Mangatepopo Hut.
From the parking area at the end of Ketetahi road, you walk on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing track. It is approximately a 2-3 hour walk to Ketetahi shelter (not available for accommodation). From there it is a further 3 hours to Oturere Hut, or 4-5 hours to Mangatepopo Hut.
The track begins by climbing through podocarp forest, then continues up the tussock-covered slopes of Mount Tongariro. This section of track goes through the active volcanic hazard zone. There are great views from the track of the steaming volcanic vents at Te Maari craters, the Ketetahi thermal area, and evidence of the 2012 volcanic eruptions.
Desert Road (SH1)
There is a parking area just off the Desert Road, 35 km south of Turangi. It takes approximately 1 hour 30 minutes to walk to Waihohonu Hut.
From the highway, the track crosses tussock and shrubland. Much of the vegetation near the first part of the track was destroyed or damaged during a large fire in November 1988. Although recovering well, blackened stems and branches can still be seen.
The track, built upon volcanic material, is fragile and easily eroded. The track enters shady beech forest near the Ohinepango Stream, part of Te Mako Bush.
Past the stream the track re-enters tussock and shrubland where there are good views of Ruapehu. Just before the hut the track joins the Round the Mountain Track. The Waihohonu Hut is a 10 minute walk from this junction.
Round the Mountain Track
The Tongariro Northern Circuit connects with the Round the Mountain Track at two points - Whakapapa Village and Waihohonu Hut.
When leaving your vehicle at track entrance parking areas, take valuable items with you and lock your vehicle. Alternatively, there are parking areas at Whakapapa Village and local towns, and transport is easy to arrange to and from the tracks.
Tongariro Northern Circuit map
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