New Zealand- Tongariro Alpine Crossing Hike

The next morning, while my husband was out for a run, I decided I did want to hike Tongariro Alpine Crossing. My thought is that we might never get to do this again so why not seize the moment. Unfortunately, His run went long and he only returned 15 mins before the next transportation bus left so when he showered I madly packed up our bags and bought the tickets for the Roam bus. He loaded our bags in the car and jumped on the bus but we forgot one important item- the sunscreen! This was a major item to forget as the sun is intense in New Zealand.  We both wore our hats and hoodies but we still got sunburned.

New Zealand
Start of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing 19.4KM
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing Track

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is 19.4km and a half a mile accent up. The bus drops you off at Mangatepopo. There is limited short term parking here which is why you need to take the bus.

Start of the Track
The bathrooms at Mangatepopo
The Mangatepopo Hut at the start of the Track

Mangatepopo to Soda Springs is fairly flat and easy hike. It should take you 1 to 1.5 hours to complete. Wet sections in this area are boardwalk to avoid the damp ground. The boardwalk is narrow and will slow you down when lots of people are present.

New Zealand
Mount Doom
The narrow boardwalk
A small stream runs along the track
New Zealand
When you reach Soda Spring there is a scary sign to “Stop and consider turning back”.

Soda Springs to South Crater is know as Devil’s Staircase. It is steep and moderately difficult.  It should take you 40mins to 1 hour to complete depending on how many breaks you take. When you get to the top, they like to joke that there are no more stairs which is true but doesn’t mean there are no more inclines just no stairs. Ha ha joke is on you.

New Zealand
View Back to Soda Springs and Mangatepopo
New Zealand
Look at all the hikers climbing up the Devil’s Staircase
Taking a rest and enjoying the view
Where are we? Who knows, keep going.
Looking back at Mount Doom

South Crater to Red Crater starts with a very flat easy section then there is a short climb on an exposed ridge. The first part is easy but the short accent is difficult. We noticed a storm was fast approaching when we were climbing this section. This section should take you 1 hour. Once you reached Red Crater this is the top of the track.

Flat easy section on the way to South Crater
South Crater
Start of the ridge climb
Section of the climb on the ridge where the path is so narrow there is a cable for you to hang onto.
Ridge climb up to Red Crater
More climbing
Finally made it to the top! Red Crater!
Checking the Stats!
Made it to the Top!

Red Crater to Blue Lake this is the most beautiful part of the hike because once you pass red crater is two emerald lakes. They are so beautiful. The descent down from Red Crater is difficult as the extremely loose rock that causes you slide down the mountain. It was a little terrifying as there were so many people coming down.  Emerald lakes is  where we stopped for lunch and took many pictures. There is a sulfurous smell in this area. Blue lake is a cold acidic lake and it is seen as disrespectful to touch the water. This section should take about 30mins.

Emerald Lakes while descending down from Red Crater
The Emerald Lakes
The colors are so vivid
A close up of the blue lake
Out of three pools two were turquoise in color and one was blue. This is the blue one.
Well I have to have a jumping picture in here somewhere.

Blue Lake to Ketetahi Shelter is a moderate 1 hr hike down. The track zig zag the way down to Ketchahi Shelter. Once you reach Ketetahi Shelter there are bathrooms and there is a nice shelter to take a break. Since we were still trying to stay in front of the storm we kept hiking.

Looking back at Red Crater
View of Lake Taupo
The start of the switchbacks
The Zig Zag section down to Ketetahi Hut

Ketetahi Shelter to Ketetahi CarPark is the section that never ends. This section of the track goes on forever. You think you are close once you make it down but due to the high bushes you have no idea how much further. It is a moderate hike that will take 2hrs. This is where the storm finally caught up to us and started to sprinkle. Near the bottom is a washout area which there are lots of caution signs to not go in this area if it is raining. Luckily it was just sprinkling so we crossed and continued the hike.

The washout area which the suggest using caution if it is raining.

Finally we made it down the the Ketetahi CarPark. There is a hut where all the exhausted hikers are laying down sleeping. Our bus picked us up at scheduled times and took us back to the Grand Chateau Tongariro. There are several bus companies so make sure you get on the correct bus.

We made it to Ketetahi Carpark! Thumbs up- 6.5 hours.
All the resting hikers after the long hike at Ketetahi carpark
The Verdict 

Tongariro Alpine Crossing was an epic hike but not overly strenuous to complete. It has amazing scenery which everyone should check out. I am very happy we did the hike and did not pass on this adventurous day to see the New Zealand landscape. It took us 6.5 hours to complete the track.


Once we made it back to the Grand Chateau we then got in our car and drove to Taupo in search of aloe vera. We had dinner by the lake and checked out the McDonald’s. Which is the only McD’s in the world with a airplane you can eat in. Then we checked into our hostel. Yup you read the right, we stayed in our first hostel. We had a private room and it only cost $50 a night. It was called Haka Lodge Taupo. It was supposedly very nice for a hostel but the lack of air conditioning in the room was a major issue as we had to leave the windows open and it was loud with people and traffic and the street lights. In the am we were ready to leave. Next up our adventure day in Rotarua.

In Taupo, the only McDonald’s in the world with a airplane you can eat in.
The sunset view from the shore of Lake Taupo

This is part of a larger trip report, Please read more at the following links.

New Zealand- Take Two- Planning Stage

New Zealand- Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach

Hobbiton, Waitamo Glow Worm Cave and Tongariro NP

Tongariro Alpine Crossing & Taupo

Rotorua Adventure Day- Kaituna Whitewater rafting

Wine tasting on Waiheke Island from Auckland

Cruise New Zealand- Auckland

New Zealand Cruise- Tauranga- Mount Maunganui

New Zealand Cruise- Napier Winery Bike Ride

Cruise New Zealand- Exploring Wellington in One Day

New Zealand Cruise- Picton- Boat cruise to Queen Charlotte Track

New Zealand Cruise- Akaroa Ecoseakers swim with dolphins

Cruise New Zealand- Dunedin- Otago Pennisula- Coming soon!

New Zealand Cruise- Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound & Dusty Sound- Coming soon!

New Zealand Cruise- Sydney- Bondi Beach- Coming soon!