Tongariro Alpine Crossing for Beginners

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The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is one of New Zealand’s most popular hikes, but it’s important to plan ahead before attempting it. This post is designed to provide first-time hikers with everything they need to know before hitting the trail. If you’re considering hiking the Tongariro Crossing, keep reading for helpful tips on what to expect, what to pack, and how to stay safe on the trail.

Planning Your Trip

Before you hit the trail, it’s important to plan ahead. The Tongariro Crossing is open year-round, but some seasons are better than others. The best time to hike is during the summer months (December to February), when the weather is mild and the trail is generally dry. It’s also important to make reservations ahead of time, especially if you plan to hike during the busy season. Consider booking your shuttle and accommodations well in advance to ensure availability.

When it comes to choosing a route, there are a few options to consider. Most hikers choose to start at Mangatepopo and end at Ketetahi, but you can also hike the trail in reverse or take a shorter version of the hike if you’re short on time. It’s important to choose the route that’s right for you and your hiking abilities.

Preparing for the Hike

The Tongariro Crossing is a challenging hike, so it’s important to be physically prepared before you hit the trail. Make sure to get plenty of rest before your hike and consider doing some cardio and strength training in the weeks leading up to your trip. It’s also important to pack wisely. Some essential items to bring include sturdy hiking boots, a backpack, plenty of water, and sunscreen. Dress in layers, as the weather can change quickly on the trail.

Hiking the Tongariro Crossing

The Tongariro Crossing is a 19.4-kilometer hike that typically takes between 6-8 hours to complete. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow, but it can be challenging at times, especially if you’re not used to hiking. The hike is divided into several sections, each with its own unique features. For example, the Red Crater section offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape, while the Emerald Lakes section is known for its vibrant blue-green lakes.

To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, it’s important to take your time and pace yourself on the trail. Take breaks as needed, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Be mindful of your surroundings and stay on the marked trail at all times.

Safety Tips

Hiking the Tongariro Crossing can be a challenging and rewarding experience, but it’s important to stay safe on the trail. There are a few potential hazards to be aware of, including steep drop-offs, loose rocks, and rapidly changing weather conditions. It’s important to dress in layers and bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun. Consider bringing a first aid kit and emergency supplies, and be sure to check the weather forecast before you hit the trail.

Accommodations and Logistics

When it comes to accommodations and logistics, there are several options to consider. There are a number of hotels, hostels, and camping sites in the area, so you can choose the option that’s right for you. If you’re traveling from out of town, consider booking a shuttle to take you to and from the trailhead. Many shuttles offer convenient pick-up and drop-off options, making it easy to access the trail.


In conclusion, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is an incredible hiking experience that is not to be missed. While it can be challenging, with the right preparation and planning, it is a truly rewarding adventure. By taking the time to plan ahead, pack appropriately, and understand the potential challenges of the trail, hikers can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Whether you choose to hike alone, with friends or family, or as part of a guided tour, the Tongariro Crossing is an unforgettable journey through stunning landscapes, rich history, and fascinating geology. So, lace up your boots, grab your backpack, and get ready to embark on an adventure that you’ll remember for a lifetime.