Tackle the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. © Visit Ruapehu

Tongariro Alpine Crossing: one of the best one-day hikes in the world


Look, we wouldn’t want to oversell it or anything, but the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is considered to be one of the ten best one-day hikes in the world. Uh-huh. Quite a claim.

Ask anyone who’s done it – and that’s a few hundred thousand by now – and they’ll tell you it’s one of the best things they’ve done ever.

Now, let’s clarify a few things. It’s a 20km hike over some steep terrain which, if you keep moving, will take you six to eight hours. But there’s no prize for racing it; it’s so spectacular that you will want to take your time. Because in that 20km you are going to catch views that you will just want to stand and soak up – colour-drenched lakes, red-rimmed craters, dark, forbidding volcanic rock. 


That’s before you look up and see the mountains. On a clear day, you can see all the way across to Mount Taranaki. That’s a view that takes some beating.

To experience alpine conditions without having to take half an outdoors store with you is a chance not to be missed. Sure, in winter, you’ll need an ice axe, crampons, a guide and the willingness to feel like you’re on the set of Game of Thrones: ‘winter is coming’ and all that. But in summertime, well, it’s a slog at times, but a totally do-able one. But remember, no matter what time of year, alpine conditions can make the environment potentially deadly. Back appropriate clothing even in the height of summer as the weather can change extremely quickly.

So yep, it’s popular. Hence it can look less like the craters of the moon and more like a Goretex catwalk. But the landscape will soon win you over. And you will finish wondering only one thing: when can I come back and do it again?

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