Tongariro Alpine Crossing located in Tongariro National Park is considered the most popular day hike in New Zealand. Who would question it’s popularity? With beautiful emerald coloured lakes, extensive view of Mount Taranaki on a clear day and the summit of Mount Ngauruhoe and Tongariro, this day hike is bursting with stunning scenery and well maintained pathways.
We started early on a beautiful Saturday morning and made our slow ascent from the Mangatepopo carpark after being dropped off by our transfer company. Everything was going well until the Devil’s Staircase which was gruesome with never ending steps and no end in sight. We continued to the Red Crater and decided to take the Mount Tongariro side trip (1967m). Being hit by the strong wind was brutal but the pain disappeared when you reach the top – the surreal view of Mount Ngauruhoe. The summits was hit with a layer of snow the night before, further adding to the beauty of Mother Nature.
We took our time with the descent down to the Lakes. By then, the track was filling up with other hikers. We rested for lunch and continued with the remainder of the track which happens to be the boring part. A never ending trail down to the Ketetahi carpark.
Our hike was just a bit over 24km including the optional Mt Tongariro summit and by the last hour, we were all exhausted. We made it back with time to spare for our pickup back to our car at National Park.
Highly recommend this day hike!