Read a description of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

May to late October – winter season

Special skills and preparation are required to complete the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in winter. There is increased risk from snow, ice, avalanche terrain and sub-zero temperatures.

Trek across volcanic alpine landscape of dramatic contrasts – steaming vents, glacial valleys, ancient lava flows, alpine vegetation and vivid crater lakes, all with stunning views.

Bookings are recommended for all visitors using any part of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing track. A track booking is needed to use a shuttle or guided walk service. 

Book to use any part of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

About the track

This challenging trip begins at 1120 m following a well-formed boardwalk in a gradual climb through the Mangatepōpō Valley. The initial 5.4 kilometres share the track with the Soda Springs Walk. Soda Springs Walk is an easy 2 hr return is a good option for those who may not have the fitness to attempt the more challenging parts of the crossing.

At the end of the valley the track increases in difficulty, with a steady climb of around 350 m up a staircase to a short plateau in South Crater.

The climb resumes with the ascent to Red Crater, the highest point in the Crossing at 1886 m.

A steep descent on volcanic rock scree brings walkers to the vivid Ngā Rotopounamu-Emerald Lakes.

Loose rocks and stones on the steep slopes of Red Crater present a major slip hazard. Walkers are advised to take extra time and care.

The track continues past Blue Lake - Te Wai Whakaata o Te Rangihīroa (Rangihīroa’s mirror) and begins the long descent of the Northern slopes. The zig-zag descent includes many steps which can present difficulties for those with weaker knees.

Enjoy the magnificent views over Lake Rotoaira and Lake Taupō before descending further into lush forest. The track ends at Ketetahi Road at an altitude of 760 m.

Be prepared for a long and challenging day out and be rewarded with stunning vistas and experiences.

Elevation profile

  • Change in elevation: +/- 1196 m


Alternative walks

If conditions are poor, try alternatives such as Taranaki Falls Walking Track or Tama Lakes Track.

Understand if you are ready for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Watch the NZ Mountain Safety Council’s walk-through video which takes you through how to prepare for this track. Including facilities, key decision points, hazards and typical conditions for the area. 


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