Did this on a sunny, snow-free winter's day. The lakes had just a thin crust of ice. Not too many people, thank goodness. It's a great day walk, but has been over-marketed almost to the point of oblivion.
I did this with my wife and daughters. It was nothing short of amazing. I'm a big fan of LOTR so it was awesome to be by Mt. Doom. When we made it to the the top of Red Crater, the Emerald Lakes just had us in awe!
Very windy day, with some unseasonable snow on the middle 5km of the track, but previous bad weather backed up demand, and probably 300 folks on the trip today. Some were very poorly equipped for the conditions and the trail, and I saw several turn back, including an obvious hypotermia case being evacuated. Did not go to the peak because of conditions, extremely windy at Red Crater summmit. Overall an enjoyable day, and that even accounts for the extra ~mileI did because I left my hat at the final hut, and didn't discover it until I was 25 minutes down the trail and hiked back up to retrieve it!
fun for beginners and all alike.
I did this hike when I was an a study abroad with a group of adventurous girls. They taught me to love hiking and that is something you can learn to do well. This was one of the most varied and beautiful hikes I have ever done. (I couldn't help pretending I was a hobbit going through the dead marshes and climbing Mt Doom.) We made it up to the crater but did not find the summit. The Emerald Lakes were amazing. I would recommend this to anyone who goes to New Zealand.
Long time ago I did this wonderful hike, wonderful views to the lakes.
Started from Whakepapa chateau at 9am, pass by Taranaki Falls along the loop, then Northern Circuit to Mangatepopo shelter, Mt Doom, Tongariro and finished the Crossing at Ketetahi in the dark at about 8pm. Very unique terrain owing to the Emerald Lakes and Blue Lake.
Note: I had a fairly easy time hitching a ride from Ketetahi back to Whakepapa. This is viable alternative to commercially-operated shuttle services.
Did the traverse twice, once in the deep snow, once in the dry, each a week apart. The most amazing contrast imaginable. The colours of the mineral deposits, the lakes, Lake Taupo in the distance, Ngaurahoe, Ruapehu, just such an overwhelming onslaught of sensory input.