The Tongariro Alpine Crossing – The Best Day Hike in New Zealand

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a world-renowned adventurous hike set high up in the spectacular backdrop of a stunning volcanic caldera in New Zealand.

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a world-renowned adventurous hike set high up in the spectacular backdrop of a stunning volcanic caldera in New Zealand. Is it a place made up of awe and wonder, and is home to some of the most diverse natural wonders known to man. This hike is a life changer.

Where is it Located?

The crossing is located in the Tongariro National Park. This is the oldest national park in New Zealand and is also a dual world heritage site. The park is set along three massive mountains made famous for skiing, trekking, and other thrilling activities. They are also known as the filming location of Peter Jackson’s, The Lord of the Rings series.

The Track

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is considered to be the best day hike in all of New Zealand, and it is even ranked as one of the best in the entire world. It unfolds over Mount Tongariro at a length of 19.4 kilometers. The epic trek begins at the Mangatepopo Valley and ends at Ketatahi Road.

Geological Features

What makes this day hike so unique is the awe inspiring natural wonders along the way. The beginning of the trip will take you through the Mangatepopo Valley which was carved out by a glacier during the last ice age and subsequently filled in by lava flows.

As trekkers reach the head of the valley, they will encounter Soda Springs. These cold water springs are stained a golden color from iron oxide, and the water is filled with dissolved gases, thus inspiring the name Soda Springs.

The next amazing feature on the trip is the Red Crater. This is the highest area of the crossing, and the entire area is dotted by several active steam vents that are surrounded by bright yellow sulphur deposits. This whole region is actually an active volcanic crater that gleams a brilliant red color due to temperature oxide from the iron within the rock.

Descending down from the carter, visitors come across three acidic lakes nicknamed the Emerald lakes. The lakes are a colored a vivid blue due to mineral deposits from the connecting thermal vents.

Another dazzling lake that will be encountered is the Blue Lake. This freshwater lake is 16 meters deep and is made up from an ancient volcanic lava vent. The water in the lake is also very acidic, and the entire area is considered sacred by locals.

Next up is the Maari Craters which were actually brought to existence by a volcanic eruption in August of 2012. This is an active volcanic zone, and visitors are advised to keep their stops to a minimum. The entire area is filled with impact craters and steaming volcanic thermal vents.

How Long Does it Take to Complete?

The entire track takes the average visitor seven to nine hours to complete. The trek can be done by most people, but first timers should be prepared for fairly steep hikes in certain areas of the trek.

How Fit Do Trekkers Have to Be?

The trail will require that trekkers be in fairly decent shape to complete the epic journey because they will be climbing over 800 meters in altitude resulting in an overall 1900 meters above sea level. Oxygen is much thinner at this level and it may be a bit difficult to breath for some people.

Weather Conditions

The weather conditions on the Alpine Crossing can change drastically in short periods of time so hikers must take the utmost precautions. In fact, during the winter season additional gear will be required including ice picks to make you way along the mountain.

What Gear is Required?

There are a few items that are essential for a safe and pleasant journey along the way due to the unpredictable weather changes in the region. All visitors should carry these items.

• Food and water: It is imperative that you bring enough liquid for the trip, especially during the hot summer months.
• Boots: all trekkers should have durable boots for the steep climbing areas
• Waterproof clothing: It may rain at any given time so be sure to bring a raincoat and waterproof pants
• Hat and gloves: this will give additional protection from the elements
• Sunglasses and sunscreen: the sun can be quite unforgiving at times
• Warm clothing: the temperature may drop rapidly along the way
• First aid kit, a map, and a cellphone: you never know when an emergency may arise

Carrying these basic items will help ensure that all visitors are well prepared for any situation.

What is the best Time of the Year to Go?

The Tongariro Alpine Hike may be done at any time of the year, but visitors must prepare differently for each season. During the winter, a guide and additional gear will be required. During the summer, the trail can be a bit crowded with lots of other visitors, and the weather becomes quite hot. This essentially makes spring and fall the most ideal times of the year for most people to visit.

How to Get There

Reaching the Tongariro Alpine Crossing can be done by arranged transport from within the Tongariro National Park or from your hotel reception area.

Overall, The Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand is a trek of a lifetime. There are few places on Earth that can match the sheer beauty of this magical place. Although it does take a bit of preparation to take this hike on properly, the resulting experience will be well worth the effort.

Posted by Jason Bleibtreu on December 29, 2014