Introduction

Find out about walking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in the winter season.

Brochure: Tongariro Alpine Crossing: Winter – Are you prepared? (PDF, 1,265K)

You need special skills and preparation to complete the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in winter. There are increased risks from snow, ice, avalanche terrain and sub-zero temperatures.

If you’re a well-prepared, competent winter alpine tramper, it can be a fantastic experience. If you aren’t experienced and equipped for alpine travel, choose another track.

This page provides advice pertinent to winter crossings – see know before you go for other relevant advice about the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

Prepare for a long, challenging day

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Allow 9 hours to complete the walk. There are between 9 and 11 hours of daylight in winter, so leave early enough to complete the trip before it gets dark. Always take a head torch.

Be prepared to turn back if conditions are no longer safe or if your progress is too slow.

Dress for cold, windy and icy conditions

On a calm day, Red Crater is at least 10°C colder than Taupo and 5°C colder than the start of the track – subtract another 2°C for every 10 km/h of wind:

Eg, when it’s 10°C (50°F) in Taupo, a calm day at Red Crater will be about 2°C (35°F). This feels more like -2°C (28°F) with moderate winds of 20 km/h (11 knots).

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Conditions can change quickly. Layer your clothes to trap warm air in and keep cold wind out. Start with a base layer of polypropylene/merino, add an insulation layer of fleece/wool and finish with a waterproof shell layer.

Expect ice on the track between April and October. A helmet, crampons and ice axe are essential, as is competency using them. 38% of tramping injuries are from slipping.

Be avalanche alert

Take an avalanche transceiver, avalanche probe and snow shovel, and be competent using them.

How to be avalanche alert in Tongariro National Park

Take these essentials

  • Plenty of drinking water (water along the track is not suitable for drinking), food and toilet paper
  • Waterproof jacket and pants, hat, gloves, sunscreen, and warm, layered clothing
  • Sturdy tramping or mountaineering boots
  • Crampons, ice axe and helmet
  • Avalanche transceiver, avalanche probe and snow shovel
  • Mobile phone, personal locator beacon (PLB), head torch and spare batteries
  • Map, compass and/or GPS

Make a plan

Talk with someone at the Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre who knows the current crossing conditions.

Plan your trip – Mountain Safety Council website

Know the route – deep snow can hide track markers. 

Check the latest:

Shuttle buses generally don't operate during winter, but guided trips include transport.

Go with a guide

Know your limits. Have a memorable and safe experience with the following approved Tongariro Alpine Crossing guiding companies:

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