Lower Tama Lake.

Image: Kathrin & Stefan Marks | Creative Commons


Enjoy views of two lakes that occupy old explosion craters on Tama Saddle between Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe.

Track overview

17 km return via same track

Walking and tramping

5-6 hr return Advanced: Tramping track

Dog access

No dogs

About this track


This track is an extension of the Taranaki Falls Walking Track.

After reaching Taranaki Falls, the track crosses undulating tussock country and alpine herb fields on a well formed and marked track. Further on, the track branches to the left to Tama Lakes, while the main track continues on to Waihohonu Hut. From this junction is a view of the lower lake (1,240 metres) with a surrounding backdrop of Mt Ngauruhoe to the North and behind you Mt Ruapehu.

The track climbs steeply to a viewpoint of the upper lake (1,440 metres). From here the track is not formed and is made of loose and uneven rock. There are no formed tracks down to the lakes, the descent to both is via steep unstable gullies. To ensure these pristine alpine lakes are kept free of weeds, do not touch or swim in the water.

This track requires much less uphill walking and exposure to alpine conditions than the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. It may be a great alternative during periods of bad weather.

Getting there

The track is near Whakapapa Village on SH48. Start on the Taranaki Falls Walking Track, 100 m below the Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre on Ngauruhoe Place.

Nature and conservation

Some of the oldest lava flows on the slopes of Ruapehu and Tongariro can be found at the Tama Saddle. Tama Lakes occupy six explosion craters, created around 10,000 years ago during an explosive eruption period.

Beneath Ngauruhoe extend ancient ridges, survivors of glacial cycles that ravaged this area long ago.

Know before you go

Alpine environment with rapidly changing weather conditions at all times of the year

Tama Saddle acts as a funnel for prevailing westerly winds. Windproof clothing is recommended.

It is common to experience strong wind, heavy rainfall and rapid changes in temperature, even in summer. Check the Tongariro National Park weather forecast on the MetService website before you start your hike.

Take warm and waterproof layers and be prepared for all weather conditions.

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.


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
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