Tongariro Alpine Crossing is New Zealand's most famous day walk and arguably the beautiful in the country. The volcanic landscape is pretty epic. Along the route, Tongariro Crossers make their way between Mount Tongariro and the perfect cone-shaped Mount Ngauruhoe, up to Red Crater, down passed the Emerald Lakes and Blue Lake to the endless zigzags that lead back to the carpark. It really is a must-do!
Each year thousands of kiwis and tourists alike visit Tongariro National Park to complete the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Some are experienced hikers, avid trampers, and passionate alpinists, but most are tourists out for a walk. Is your family ready for it? When conditions are favourable with sunny skies and low wind, the walk is doable for those with moderate fitness, the determination to get it done, and the right gear. For the unprepared, the alpine aspect of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing can make the trip dangerous. Sometimes would-be crossers arrive to find out that the Department of Conservation (DOC) doesn't recommend attempting the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, usually due to poor visibility or high winds and sometimes from volcanic activity. Gutting, especially if you can't wait out the weather for another try.
Happily, there are heaps of alternative day walks and even overnight hikes if the conditions mean your group is onto plan B. Our crossing plans have been foiled about 2 out of 6 tries and usually on the weekend, which means we've needed a backup plan for both Saturday and Sunday.
Some of our favourite plan Bs:
- Tama Lakes (17km return)
- Taranaki Falls (6km return)
- Mount Tauhara in Taupo (6km return)
- Loop around Lake Rotoaira (5km, this one is still on the list, but I have it on good authority that it's a good one)
- The Mounds Walk (20 minutes, good for non-trampers)
- Tawhai Falls (30 minutes)