(15 years and under)
Tongariro Northern Circuit Summary
The Tongariro Northern Circuit is a 3 day guided hike around the active volcanoes Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu. From alpine herb fields to forests, from tranquil lakes to desert-like plateau, this is a place of extremes and surprises. You'll see unique and stunning landscapes including active volcanic craters, brilliant blue lakes, steaming geothermal areas, and glacial valleys.
- Join a small group & passionate NZ guide
- 3 days / 2 nights all-inclusive New Zealand Guided Walk
- 3-7 hours hiking each day over varied terrain on formed trails
- Your guides carry all food & cooking equipment
- You carry a backpack with your clothing & sleeping bag
- Includes: delicious meals and snacks; wine; return transport from National Park or Whakapapa; hut accommodation; sleeping bags, backpacks and raincoats; experienced, knowledgeable and fun guides!
Tongariro Northern Circuit Full Itinerary
Day One: Tongariro Crossing
16 kms, 6-7 hours walking (Lunch, Dinner)
We start the Northern Circuit hike at Mangetepopo, and you’ll soon see why this hike is known as one the Great Walks of New Zealand! The track follows Mangatepopo stream up the valley, climbing over a succession of old lava flows from Ngauruhoe. The youngest lava flows were erupted from Ngauruhoe in 1949 and 1954.
A steady climb to the Mangatepopo Saddle rewards us with views of the valley and if clear, Mt Taranaki to the west. From the saddle the track crosses South Crater, a large plateau sandwiched between Mt Tongariro and the classic conical peak of Mt Ngauruhoe (aka Mt Doom).
This is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing track, one of the world’s best walks, and you’ll definitely need to keep your camera handy! A quick scramble up to reach the highest point of the track, and we are rewarded with mind-blowing views over the North Island – not to mention the incredible Mars-like landscape immediately surrounding us! Red crater is a sight to behold with its spectacular magma formations underneath the rim. We’ll take our time to soak up the vistas and recharge with a wholesome lunch amidst this volcanic wonderland. We then skirt along the crater rim and drop down to the brilliantly coloured Emerald Lakes, which fill old explosion pits.
From Emerald Lakes the track descends into the Oturere Valley and weaves through unusual jagged lava forms from early eruptions from Red Crater. A magical place to visit especially on a misty day, Oturere Hut is nestled on the eastern edge of these flows, and is the best spot for sunsets in Tongariro National Park.
Day Two: Oturere to Waihohonu Hut
8kms, 3-4 hours walking (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner)
Today’s hike traverses the lunar landscapes of the eastern side of Mt Ngauruhoe. There are some awesome photo opportunities now with expansive views across old lava fields to the Rangipo Desert (NZ’s only desert) and Kaimanawa mountains, with the snow-capped Mt Ruapehu as a stunning backdrop. The track gradually sidles around the foot hills of Ngauruhoe descending into a valley and crossing one of the branches of the Waihohonu Stream. We continue through a beech clad valley before climbing towards the ridge top. Waihohonu Hut is in the next valley. With huge windows to capture the spectacular views and a fire to warm our toes by, the Waihohonu Hut is certainly home away from home!
After lunch we can explore the Ohinepango freshwater springs, and enjoy a relaxing afternoon in this splendid setting. These amazing springs are crystal clear and absolutely freezing after percolating through the earth for thousands of years. You can have a very memorable swim here - if you’re as crazy as the guides!
Day Three: Waihohonu to Whakapapa Village
14kms, 5 hours walking (Breakfast, Lunch)
After a delicious cooked breakfast we start to follow the Waihohonu stream and gradually climb to Tama Saddle. The track passes through lovely pockets of native forest and open tussock fields that lie between Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu. From the saddle there is a very worthwhile side trip to the striking Tama Lakes, two infilled explosion craters. Continuing from the Tama Lakes junction we walk to look over the Taranaki Falls. Tumbling 20 metres over the edge of an old lava flow, which erupted from Mt Ruapehu 15,000 years ago, the falls plunge into a boulder-ringed pool.
Then it’s a relatively easy stroll through beech forest and tussock meadows to the trail end at Whakapapa village, where you will be greeted with an ice-cold beer! After a well-earned celebration, we’ll drop you back to Whakapapa or National Park Village, refreshed and invigorated from the great hikes, good food and memorable times you’ll have had with us in Tongariro National Park!
The Tongariro Northern Circuit hike goes well with the North Island's other Great Walk - Lake Waikaremoana Guided Walk.
Questions & Answers
If staying in a hut isn't your cup of tea, check out our lodge based Tongariro Hiking Tour.
You can get to National Park or Whakapapa Village by train or bus, and we'll pick you up from there at around 8am. Contact us if you need any travel advice, or for our list of recommended accommodations for before and after the walk.