Backpack the Tongariro Northern Circuit

New Zealand Tongariro Crossing Trailhead

Added by Kyle Frost

The Tongariro National Park has Dual World Heritage status and contains 3 active volcanoes. You'll have the opportunity to throw the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom. There's also a robust hut system, which means that you'll have a protected and warm spot to sleep if you go that route. Limited camping is also available, and the track can be hiked clockwise or counterclockwise.

Most people visiting Togariro National park do the 1 day Alpine Crossing. I opted to do the full circuit, a 27 mile hike that takes you all the way around the prominent summit of Mt. Ngaroe.

I traveled the trail clockwise, leaving from Whakapapa Village and heading to Waihohonu Hut on the first day. This part of the trail is fairly flat and winds 14.3 km around the south side of Ngaroe.

Day 2 brought a short 8km hike to the Oturere Hut. Since that didn't take very long, I day hiked up to the Emerald lakes and the Ketetahi hut. The sunset over Mt. Ngauruhoe and Mt. Tongariro from Oturere was spectacular.

On Day 3, I rose with the sun and tackled the trail up to Tongariro crossing and the Red Crater. I dropped my pack at the bottom of Ngauruhoe and summited early, before the tallus slopes were overrun with day hikers. Instead of stopping at the Mangatepopo Hut, I decided to finish off the loop, adding significant mileage, but all mostly downhill back to Whakapapa village.

Pack List

  • Sleeping Bag
  • Warm clothes (Tongariro is notorious for nasty weather)
  • 10 essentials
  • Tent (if camping)
  • Rain gear
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Backpacking, Camping, Hiking

Skill Level:



Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:



26.7 Miles




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How to Get There

10 months ago

justifiably a World Heritage

Such a great Walk. We also did it clockwise but already walked to the second hut because we couldn't book the first one. That made it an 8 hour walk but that was actually a good thing because that way we had prefect weather while waking up the Tongariro. We took the additional walk to the top witch was another 1.5 hours. The view from the top was stunning and you do appreciate it much more if you already where walking two days to get there. On the last steep hill there were many day-trippers but it was not too full that day. A definite must-do is to get up in the middle of the night and admire that beautiful night sky. The last day was still a pretty exhausting walk of only three hours but you'll feel so good after you done it.

10 months ago

Added by Kyle Frost

Designer and Adventure Photographer based in Boulder, Colorado. Fan of mountains, coffee, beer, and witty banter. Available for commissions and collaborations. I'm @kylefrost pretty much everywhere.

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