With its taller volcanic neighbours, Mt. Ruapehu (2797m) and Mt. Ngauruhoe(2287m), Mt Tongariro may not seem the obvious choice for the summit-loving type. However, the summit is well situated on the Tongariro Crossing which is one of New Zeland's most popular, and finest, one day walks. On arrival at the summit you are presented with an enthralling 360 degree panorama including the aforementioned higher summits, Red Crater (still warm to the touch!), the Blue Lake and Emerald Pools, the sweeping lines of the cirque surrounding the South Crater and, if the visibility is good, the distant, and also volcanic, peak of Mt Taranaki (2518m).
Tongariro is New Zealand's oldest national park and a dual World Heritage area. This status recognises the park's important Maori cultural and spiritual associations as well as its outstanding volcanic features.
This 79598-hectare park is located in the central North Island. The nearest towns are Turangi, National Park and Ohakune. The small village of Whakapapa is located within the park. A number of daily flights operate into and out of Taupo Airport and a variety of shuttle services run to Whakapapa from the nearby towns.
The begining of the track can be accessed from the end of Mangatepopo rd just off SH47 or from the end of Ketetahi rd off SH46 (National park rd) which is betweeen SH1 and SH47. Arrival at either car parks will allow you to get straight onto the track to the mountain.
The approach from Mangatepopo car park is board-walked past the Mangatepopo Hut to the foot of the Mangatepopo Saddle and the route is poled from there on. After climbing the Saddle you pass the route to Ngauruhoe (2-3hr return) on your right and continue on through the South Crater, up past Red Crater and along the South crater ridge to a final steeper section before reaching the summit.
There are no fees to climb to the summit and back.
When To Climb
The mountain is climbed during the popular tramping season (Dec to Mar) by many people and is generally safe and straight forward.
In the winter it becomes a slightly tougher alpine trek and should be approached with due caution and experience. However, this would be an excellent ascent for those who are new to winter mountaineering and wish to practice their skills and bag a summit or two along the way. The only thing to beware of is the changeable weather, so come prepared.
From late October to early June a Great Walks Pass is required and must be bought in in advance if you want to use the hut facilities. At other times standard backcountry passes can be used. Camping is allowed near the huts.
I camped on the summit for one night and would recommend waking to the stunning view at sunrise to anyone - along with a warm sleeping bag!
Check with the Department of Conservation (DOC) on the weather conditions before beggining - though they will tend to be overcautious with respect to an experienced mountaineer.
This is the link for the DOC's webpage on Tonagariro National Park
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