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The Tongariro Crossing: New Zealand’s ‘best one day hike’

The starting point for your Tongariro Crossing adventure is Whakapapa village, a small village located in the Tongariro National Park (North Island). There you’ll find a visitor centre, a campsite, and a luxurious, famous hotel, The Grand Chateau, where you can fully recover from the ‘best one day hike in New Zealand’ with a drink or a delicious meal!

There’s no doubt about it. The Tongariro Crossing is for sure one of the most beautiful daywalks in New Zealand. So make sure you bring some good footwear, because this is a walk you really shouldn’t miss!

But first park your New Zealand camper van at Whakapapa Holiday Park. This campsite is a bit dark (it’s situated in a beech forest), but has good facilities. Then book your transport to and from the start/the end of the Tongariro Crossing at the reception of the campsite or at the Whakapapa visitor centre (just across the road). If you’re on a tight time schedule, phone the visitor centre to arrange your transport in advance: 07-892 3729.

And then, off you go! The start of the Tongariro Crossing is at the car park at the end of Mangatepopo Road, off the SH47. The transport service you arranged, will drop you off here. From the car park, the track leads you over the slopes of Mt. Ngauruhoe and Mt. Tongariro, offering spectacular views. Mt. Ngauruhoe and Mt. Tongariro are two of the three volcanoes at the heart of the Tongariro National Park. The third one, Mt. Ruapehu, is New Zealand’s largest active volcano, that has erupted for the last time in 1996. The visitor centre in Whakapapa shows spectacular photos of this eruption. (NB: these volcanoes featured as Mt Doom in The Lord of the Rings!)

On a normal day, you’ll need about 7 – 8 hours to reach the car park at the end of Ketetahi Road, off the SH46. Here the walk ends. Make sure you bring your own lunch and take enough water with you during this trip, because you won’t find anything to buy again before the end of the walk. And besides food and refreshments, you’ll also need:

  • Your walking boots, of course
  • Warm clothing (fleece/wool)
  • Waterproof rain wear
  • A hat & gloves
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • A first aid kit

Weather conditions can change very fast in this area, so don’t leave anything out from this list!

For a detailed description of the Tongariro Crossing see the website of the Department of Conservation.

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