(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.
Do I need to pay a deposit?
Yes - we take a $300 deposit, per person, per walk at the time of booking. We use this deposit to pay for things like accommodation bookings at peak times. The remaining balance is due 1 month before departure, we'll send you a friendly reminder in advance!
Credit cards and I do not get along. Can I pay by other means?
Absolutely, we also accept payment via online banking. When you book you will receive a booking confirmation email that contains our direct debit information.
Life has other plans for me - I need to cancel my holiday! Can I get my deposit back?
We completely understand that sometimes the best laid plans go to waste. All is not lost! We can simply transfer you to another date of your choosing. There is no expiry date on transferring your deposit - you can use it anytime in the future!
If transferring just isn't going to work for you we'll refund your money. The amount we can refund is determined by when you cancel your booking. Click here for our full terms and conditions, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Should I bring cash with me on the tour?
It's not essential, but it's a good alternative for when the electronic payment (EFTPOS) system we use in New Zealand is not working.
Our tours are all-inclusive and we'll take really good care of you but you may wish to treat yourself to an extra coffee or a real fruit ice cream when the opportunity arises! It's good to have a small amount of cash in your pocket to take care of this.
Can I bring a suitcase?
For the Tongariro Northern Circuit it’s best to bring a camping or hiking pack as you’ll be carrying all of your own gear. Your guides will carry the food and equipment for the group. We can lend you one of our complimentary 40 litre hiking packs for the tour – just let us know you need one when you fill in the online booking form.
I'm driving myself to the departure point, where can I park my car?
We pick up in the following locations; Whakapapa Village and National Park Village. If you are self-driving, it's best to choose accommodation in these areas that are happy for you to leave your car in their parking lot while you are out on the trail with us.
We will happily drop you back to your car when we return. If you're taking a different route please check with our reservations team - we will help you find the best solution. Just send an email to email@example.com.
Will I need something nice to wear in the evenings?
No alternative evening attire is required on the Lake Waikaremoana Guided Walk or the Tongariro Northern Circuit as these are back country hut-based tours and all meals are served by your guides in the huts.
You may wish to bring a change of clothes to wear in the evenings in the huts and you're more than welcome to do so.
I have a specialty diet - can you cater for me?
Absolutely. We are happy to accommodate guests with specialty diets, we appreciate as much advance notice as possible. If we don't receive adequate advanced notice, we may not be able to fully cater for dietary needs as we sometimes operate in an extremely isolated environment and it is not always possible to access specialty foods. Please ensure you advise us as early as possible if you have dietary requirements.