Our Experience Hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand

Our Experience Hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand

The best day hike in New Zealand's North Island
Alexander & VictoriaHi! We're Alex & Victoria - a digital nomad couple from Copenhagen escaping 9-5 to chase adventures in our beautiful world. Learn more about us here.
Disclaimer: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links (including links to Amazon) providing us with a small commission if you make a qualifying purchase – at no extra cost to you. We greatly appreciate your support! As always, we share our honest opinion and everything is written by us.

New Zealand’s best day hike?

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing has been dubbed “New Zealand’s best day hike” – which is quite a moniker to earn in a country known for its superb natural beauty.

We spent three months in NZ hunting down many of the best hikes in both the North and the South Island and while saying that something is the best is always difficult, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is definitely up there.

What makes hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing so special is that you get to experience several seasons in a single day coupled with the fact that the volcanic landscape looks completely alien.

You can easily get both sun, snow, howling wind, fog and rain in a single crossing, making the whole ordeal very unpredictable.

We went in early November and didn’t exactly have great conditions. But we enjoyed the hike thoroughly nonetheless.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing hike highlight
Isn’t this place just too gorgeous?
Mt Ngauruhoe
Mt Ngauruhoe.
Leaving our van
We started the hike by leaving our van by the side of the road at the northern end to then get dropped off at the Mangatepopo carpark by a shuttle.
Our 5 Best Tips for Vegan Vanlife in New Zealand
You might be interested in:Our 5 Best Tips for Vegan Vanlife in New Zealand How to thrive as a vegan travelling around New Zealand in a campervan or motorhome on a budget Read more
Map at the start of the Tongariro hike
This map at the start of the hike gives a pretty good overview.
Be prepared banner
Be prepared!
Victoria on trail
Off we go.
The landscapes at the start of the hike were already good. It would only get prettier – and colder!
Victoria hiking
Victoria was in good spirits.
Go back or go ahead
The weather in front of us had an eery resemblance to the photograph saying that we should consider turning back…
Stair in Tongariro hike
We decided to continue. But the winds were picking up and it was getting cold.
A camoflouged loo
A camouflaged loo.
Snow on the hike
There was still snow in the higher altitudes although it was spring.
Emereld Lakes - Tongariro Alpine Crossing hike wide
There it was. The worst part of the hike was over and we were rewarded with this magnificent view of the Emerald Lakes.
Windy on Tongariro
It was windy. But we were happy!
Snow landscape
The landscapes up here are so different to the rest of the otherwise green North Island.
Blue lake
Tongariro National Park is New Zealand’s oldest national park and a dual World Heritage Site.
Volcano view
What a crazy view.
Snow landscape Tongariro Crossing
We really loved this hike. It was hard, but completely worth it.
Alex hiking
We could now see the end of the hike but there was still a long way to go.
Tongariro view
Hiking one way like we did equals about 20 kilometres (12 miles) of total length with an ascent of about 800 metres and a descent of almost 1,200 metres.
Jungle stairs
When we got down to lower elevation, the landscape changed dramatically (again).
Danger sign
Uh oh, no stopping for photos here!
Tongariro National Park from afar
We made it safely to the bottom.

Where we stayed near the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

On our North Island road trip, we went directly from Taupo in the morning to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and then continued further south after the hike.

In Taupo, we stayed at an amazing camping spot called Wairakei Natural Thermal Valley. Highly recommended!

An Amazing Camping Spot for Animal Lovers on New Zealand’s North Island
You might be interested in:An Amazing Camping Spot for Animal Lovers on New Zealand’s North Island Our camping experience at Wairakei Natural Thermal Valley, Taupo Read more

What to bring for hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

  • Travel insurance (adlink). Never travel without it!
  • A good camerahere’s a guide to the gear we use.
  • Sunscreen (adlink) if you visit in the summer.
  • Hiking shoes come in handy on the tough terrain.
  • Warm clothes. The weather can change quickly so be prepared for the worst.
  • Plenty of water and snacks.
  • A map and a compass.
  • Headtorch.
  • Cell phone.
<em><noscript><img src=
You might be interested in:What’s in Our Camera Bag? Lightweight Photography Gear for High-Quality Travel Content What camera, drone and accessories we use to capture life on the road Read more
New Zealand road
And the adventure continues!

Minimise your impact

To minimise your impact on the gorgeous New Zealand nature, follow these guidelines:

  • Bring your own drinking water in a refillable bottle.
  • Avoid single-use plastics, including straws.
  • Dispose of waste properly.
  • Take only photos, leave only footprints.
  • Be considerate of other visitors.
  • Respect any wildlife you might encounter.
Blue  colour of the water
The colour of the lakes on the hike was unreal. Remember not to touch it as it’s sacred.

Thanks for reading

Thank you for reading along.

What do you think about the Tongariro Alpine Crossing?

If you’ve already been to what has been called New Zealand’s best hike, it would be awesome to hear about your experience in the comments.

If you haven’t been yet, please don’t hesitate to ask us anything. We’re glad to help.

Our Experience Hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand
Our Experience Hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand
Our Experience Hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand

Our favourite travel resources:
Our camera gear:

Leave a Comment