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About The Track

About the track

This challenging trip begins at 1120 m, following a well-formed boardwalk in a gradual climb through the Mangatepōpō Valley. The initial 5.4 kilometres share the track with the Soda Springs Walk. Soda Springs Walk is an easy 2 hr return is a good option for those who may not have the fitness to attempt the more challenging parts of the crossing.

At the end of the valley the track increases in difficulty, with a steady climb of around 350 m up a staircase to a short plateau in South Crater.

The climb resumes with the ascent to Red Crater, the highest point in the Crossing at 1886 m.

A steep descent on volcanic rock scree brings walkers to the vivid Ngā Rotopounamu-Emerald Lakes.

Loose rocks and stones on the steep slopes of Red Crater present a major slip hazard. Walkers are advised to take extra time and care.

The track continues past Blue Lake – Te Wai Whakaata o Te Rangihīroa (Rangihīroa mirror) and begins the long descent of the Northern slopes. The zig-zag descent includes many steps which can present difficulties for those with weaker knees.

Enjoy the magnificent views over Lake Rotoaira and Lake Taupō before descending further into lush forest. The track ends at Ketetahi Road at an altitude of 760 m.

Be prepared for a long and challenging day out and be rewarded with stunning vistas and experiences.

Toilets are available every 1-2 hours along the track.

the desert is on the side of a mountain

Elevation Profile

  • Change in elevation: +/- 1196 m

a close up of a lush green hillside

Volcanic risk

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing passes through volcanic hazard zones – even when the track is open, volcanic risk is present. Volcanic monitoring systems monitor activity and mitigate volcanic risk, but won’t ensure your personal safety. If you are uncomfortable with this risk, choose a different track.

Te Maari, Red Crater and Ngāuruhoe vents have all been active within the last 100 years – the most recent eruption occurred from Te Maari in 2012.

Before you go:

Geothermal hazards

There is geothermal activity around the Tongariro Alpine Crossing – especially near emerald lakes. Steam vents (fumaroles) should not be approached – steam is very hot, the ground can be unstable and severe burns are possible. Stay on the marked track at all times to avoid injury.

Alpine Weather

The track passes through an alpine environment with changeable weather conditions at all times of year. It is common to experience very cold temperatures, strong wind, heavy rainfall and poor visibility in summer – snow can fall at any time of year.

Check the weather forecast – NIWA website (external site) before you go.

Hazardous weather

During the summer hiking season, a ‘Not Recommended Today’ advisory is applied to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing when the weather is potentially hazardous.

The advisory is applied if any of the following parameters are exceeded on any two hours between 9 am and 5 pm on the NIWA Tongariro Alpine Crossing (Red Crater) weather forecast:

  • average wind speed of 55 kph or greater
  • wind gusts of 70 kph or greater
  • wind chill of minus 10 °C or colder
  • wind chill of 0 °C or colder with 1 mm of precipitation or greater
  • rain rate greater or equal to 2.5 mm/hr
  • snow rate greater or equal to 0.1 cm/hr


  • precipitation of 10 mm or greater as a six-hour accumulation between 9 am and 5 pm.

The assessment to apply the advisory will be made at 6 am every day. If applied: