Tongariro Northern Circuit & Ohakune
Tongariro Northern Circuit
& Around the Mountains
Time: 2-4 days
Accessed from the following road-ends: Whakapapa Village, Mangatepopo Road (both off SH47), Ketetahi Road (off SH46), Desert Road (off SH1). Also connects with the Round the Mountain Circuit at Whakapapa Village and Waihohonu Hut.
The Tongariro Northern Circuit provides a great way to see some of the best features of the Tongariro National Park, parts of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and the Tongariro Traverse, at the time of day when few people are in the park or on the mountains. An overnight stay at the superbly situated DOC Oturere Hut, is highly recommended.
You can walk the full circuit in either direction and most people take 3 or 4 days, with 2 or 3 overnight stays. Very fit people can walk it in 2 days, but each day is at least 8 hours. The safest and most popular time of year is during the summer months (December to March) when the tracks are normally clear of snow and the weather is less severe.
The trail is well formed and marked with variable terrain, from a formed track or boardwalk to uneven rocky surfaces. In summer it is suitable for people with moderate fitness and limited experience. For a large part of the walk you are at a higher altitude than most trails in the park, the lowest point is 1120m above sea level, the highest point is 1886m.
A range of trips can be planned around different parts of the Tongariro Northern Circuit – day trips, overnight trips, or a three to four day walk around the complete circuit. There are also a number of possible side trips including a climb up Mt Tongariro or Mt Ngauruhoe, the Tama Lakes and from Waihohonu Hut to the Ohinepango Springs.
Options & Recommendations
1 This is a two to three day hike that can start and finish at either Mangatepopo or Whakapapa village.
2 If you have a car you are best to park at Whakapapa – where car security is better overnight – and start and finish the track there.
3 If you do not have a car we recommend you get a one way shuttle from Riverstone Backpackers to the Mangatepopo car park, where the Tongariro Alp[ine Crossing also begins
4 Walk from Mangatepopo car park to either Oturere Hut or Waihohonu Hut for your overnight stay
5 If you plan to make this a 3 day and 2 night journey you could choose to return to the Oturere Hut on your second day to spend time early or late in the day on the mountains, when there are few Tongariro Crossing day walkers
6 The next day hike from your hut to Whakapapa village and catch a shuttle back to the Ketetahi car park and Riverstone Backpackers
7 You could also choose to continue on to the Mangatepopo car cark and connect with your return shuttle there
Facilities, Information & Safety
- In the summer only (late October – April) you must book and pay in advance for the facilities at either a DOC office or through the DOC booking website.
- Riverstone Backpackers can arrange and book a shuttle bus.
- There are huts at Mangatepopo, Oturere and Waihohonu with adjacent campsites where water and cooking facilities are available.
- Toilets are available at all huts as well as at Whakapapa Village, Mangatepopo carpark, Soda Springs, Ketatahi Shelter and the Ketatahi carpark.
- Please check the weather forecasts and make sure you inform someone of your intentions and expected return date
- Check the DOC Northern Circuit for up to date information.
Around the Mountains
Time: 4-6 days
Access:Whakapapa Village, Desert Rd SH1, Ohakune Mountain Rd. Also connects with the Northern Circuit at Whakapapa Village and the Waihohonu track junction.
The Round the Mountain Circuit circumnavigates Mt Ruapehu and is for those seeking solitude, magnificent mountain views and a true back country experience. The Circuit traverses a myriad of landscapes, ranging from mountain beech forest, tussock-country and alpine herb fields, to desert lands and glacial river valleys. There are many side trips that can be explored, or parts of the Round the Mountain walk can be combined with parts of the Tongariro Northern Circuit.
Although the greater part of the track is in an alpine environment, there are no major alpine passes. Difficult walking and/or navigation can be expected during winter months, as snow can cover the track. Full alpine gear should be carried during this period (ice axe, crampons, and adequate cold weather clothing).
There are huts at Waihohonu, Rangipo, Mangahuehu, Blyth, Mangataruru and Whakapapaiti with adjacent campsites where water and cooking facilities are available. In the summer only (late October – April) you must book and pay in advance for the facilities at either a DOC office or through the DOC booking website.