Tongariro Northern Circuit is a stunning alpine walk which encircles Mount Ngauruhoe, an active volcano in Tongariro National Park.
Marvel at sacred Emerald Lakes and the Red Crater on this epic Great Walk in the Tongariro National Park.
1. Overview of Tongariro Northern Circuit
The Tongariro Northern Circuit encircles the cone of Mount Ngauruhoe - the most perfectly shaped volcanic cone within the Tongariro National Park. Although currently dormant Mount Ngauruhoe is New Zealand's most active volcano with 61 eruptions since 1839.
Starting from Whakapapa Village the first day of the circuit includes the most stunning scenery of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which is one of New Zealand's most popular walks and a great alternative for those short on time.
The Great Walks season is from late October until the end of April.
If you wish to walk the Tongariro Northern Circuit outside of these times you will need to book a guided trip with an experienced winter guide, or be very experienced in alpine mountaineering and have crampons, ice axes and adequate mountaineering gear along with strong navigation and alpine skills.
2. Walking the Tongariro Northern Circuit
The fitter you are the more you will enjoy yourself, so a good level of fitness and strength is necessary.
Find out more about the walk and what is involved;
Day 1, Whakapapa Village > Mangatepopo Hut, 8.5 km
Day 2, Mangatepopo Hut > Emerald Lakes > Oturere Hut, 12.8 km
Today's steep climb rewards with spectacular views of the Central Plateau as well as the Blue and Emerald Lakes, which fill explosion pits. Their brilliant, otherworldly colour is caused by volcanic minerals washing down from thermal areas. From here, the track descends into the Oturere Valley, where you'll find tonight's hut(opens in new window).
Day 3, Oturere Hut > Waihohonu Hut, 7.5km
After leaving the hut the track runs through a number of stream valleys and pretty open fields. You'll sidle around the foothills of Mount Ngauruhoe before walking through a valley of beech trees and then arriving at the Waihohonu Hut(opens in new window).
Day 4, Waihohonu Hut > Whakapapa Village, 14.3km
The track today gradually climbs to Tama Saddle, where there is a beautiful side trip to the stunning Tama Lakes, two old explosion craters. Whakapapa Village is around two hours walk from here. After the first hour the track intersects with the Taranaki Falls loop walk - follow the track to the bottom to see the waterfall before following the stream to reach the village.
Bookings are essential for all huts and campsites on the Tongariro Northern Circuit from late October through to the end of April.
During the trekking season the huts have bunks, mattresses, heating, toilets, basic gas cooking facilities, solar-powered lighting and cold running water. A DOC ranger is present. The huts do not provide food, cooking utensils or showers. Campers need to carry their own gas cookers.