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 one bus services and one train service that runs on alternate days that stop in National Park Village, on route between Auckland and Wellington and 15 km from Whakapapa Village. Local shuttle services are available for transfers to Whakapapa Village.
There are overnight parking areas available in the village. Visit the Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre for directions to these areas and to receive a free parking permit. It is approximately a 3 hour walk to Mangatepopo Hut, or a 5-6 hour walk to Waihohonu Hut.
A 4-hour parking restriction is in place at the Mangatepopo road end throughout the Great Walk season. Visit the Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre for a free parking permit or have your booking ticket available for the traffic management team to sight. From the parking area at the end of Mangatepopo road, it is approximately a 30 minute walk to Mangatepopo Hut.
A 4-hour parking restriction is in place at the Ketetahi Road end throughout the Great Walk season. Visit the Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre for a free parking permit or have your booking ticket available for the traffic management team to sight.
From the parking area at the end of Ketetahi Road, you walk on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing Track. It is approximately a 5–6 hour hike to Oturere Hut, or 7–8 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 Tūrangi. 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.