Introduction

When planning your hiking trip on the challenging Round the Mountain Track, be sure you are aware of relevant safety information so you can prepare well.

Your safety is your responsibility. To have a great time in the outdoors, know before you go the five simple rules of the Outdoor Safety Code to help you stay safe:

  1. Plan your trip - volcanic information, what type of track conditions to expect
  2. Tell someone
  3. Be aware of the weather - winter conditions
  4. Know your limits
  5. Take sufficient supplies

1. Plan your trip

Seek local knowledge, plan your route and the amount of time you expect it to take.

It's important to plan, prepare and equip yourself well. Have the right gear and skills required for the trip and always check the latest information about facilities you plan to use, and local track and weather conditions.

On the Round the Mountain Track, be aware that:

  • Most of the track is on rugged and exposed alpine terrain, there are just a few sections of forest around the western and southern sides. The lowest altitude of the track is about 1100 m, and the highest (at Rangipo Hut) is close to 1600 m.
  • There are some unbridged streams and river crossings, including the two larger rivers - the Whakapapaiti and Mangaturuturu rivers on the western side of Ruapehu.
  • Major hazards on the track are generally managed during summer (October to April). In winter the main hazard is snow/ice on the track.
  • We recommend you treat stream water to guard against risk of infection from giardia and other bugs.

More information:

Check for alerts at the top of this page, or contact:

Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 7 892 3729
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   tongarirovc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   Whakapapa Village
State Highway 48
Mount Ruapehu
Postal Address:   PO Box 71029
Whakapapa Village
Mount Ruapehu 3951
 
Volcanic hazards

Mount Ruapehu is an active volcano. Eruptions can happen without warning. The last eruption was on 25 September 2007.

If you are on the mountain when an eruption happens, you could be in danger. Whangaehu and Whakapapaiti river valleys are lahar paths, particularly Whangaehu River on the eastern side of Ruapehu, which is the outlet from the Crater Lake. The track crosses these two valleys so don't linger.

2. Tell someone

Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.

Fill in the visitors' book if you are staying in a hut.

In the peak summer season (October to April), there is a resident warden at Waihohonu Hut, who can give weather and track information or assist should an emergency arise. No other huts have resident wardens, but sometimes rangers are present.

3. Be aware of the weather

New Zealand's weather can be highly unpredictable - expect weather changes and be prepared for them.

On the Round the Mountain Track be aware that: 

  • The weather in Tongariro National Park is often more extreme than other places in the North Island. Be prepared for cold, wet, snowy/icy, or windy weather at any time of year.
  • Heavy rain can make the unbridged streams and rivers impassable. Be prepared to wait for water levels to drop. Never cross a flooded river!

More information:

Check the Tongariro National Park weather forecast on the MetService website.

Winter conditions

During winter months snow/ice can cover all or parts of the track, and avalanche risk may apply. Walking and/or navigation can become more difficult.

Alpine experience and equipment may be required during this period (crampons, ice axe, possibly avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe).

More information:

Avalanches

Avalanches are possible during and after heavy snow falls. Check the avalanche advisory before you leave. If risk applies, carry a transceiver, shovel and probe and know how to use them. If the risk is 'considerable' or above - don't go!

More information:

Avalanche terrain ratings in Tongariro National Park

4. Know your limits

Challenge yourself within your physical limits and experience.

On the Round the Mountain Track be aware that:

The track is classed as a tramping track suitable for people with reasonable fitness and experience. The track is mostly rough and not well formed; some sections are steep, rocky or muddy. The track however is well marked with signs, poles or markers. There are unbridged stream and river crossings. 

You can expect:

  • To walk up to 6 hours a day and longer depending on your fitness and trip plan
  • To carry a pack of up to 15 kg for 66.2 kms
  • For a 4 day trip, to walk up to 16 km per day - plus one longer day
  • For a 5 day trip, to walk up to 13 km per day
  • Most of the track has a hard, rocky and uneven surface. Forest sections can be muddy following rain.
5. Take sufficient supplies

You must be self sufficient: be sure you have enough food, clothing, equipment and emergency food for the worst-case scenario.

Take an appropriate means of communication such as a cellphone and/or personal locator beacon. Personal locator beacons can be rented from various outlets, check details on the Rescue Coordination Centre NZ website

On the Round the Mountain Track be aware that:

  • Food is not available for purchase at any of the huts
  • There are no cooking stoves at the huts - except for Waihohonu Hut during the Great Walks season
  • Cell phone coverage is reasonably good around the track, but there are sections that there is no coverage. Generally there is no or very limited cell phone coverage at Waihohonu Hut.
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