Tongariro Crossing Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Tongariro Crossing Weather Forecast?

The weather can change very quickly in the Tongariro National Park; the Tongariro Alpine Crossing track is totally exposed to the elements, sun, wind, rain and snow. You should always be prepared in the mountains, no matter what the forecast is for the day.

The link below is a broad forecast for the Tongariro National Park. We monitor the weather here in National Park Village.

Do you cancel your shuttle to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing due to weather?

Our main concern is your safety and we want you to enjoy your day on the Tongariro Crossing so we do cancel the shuttle service. We would cancel a trip in high winds especially on Red Crater ridge, the highest point on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This is a relatively narrow section and can be dangerous with a strong wind forecast.

What do we do if the weather turns bad while we are on the Tongariro Crossing?

If you feel the weather is dangerous (do not question this) and have not reached red crater you should turn back, give us a call and we will pick you up at the beginning. If you have past red crater, keep walking at a good pace; do not stop until you are at the car park and call us.

Can we get lost in poor visibility?

The track is well marked with poles and directional signs at intersections, if you do not leave the track you should not get lost. We give you a map, just to give you a guide on timing at different points along the track with our cell phone number. We know you are on the mountain and what time you are expected to be off.

When do we find out about the Tongariro Crossing weather?

We are in National Park; we will make a decision on the weather normally at 7pm the night before or first thing in the morning. We want you on the mountain at the best possible time to enjoy the views, so we make a decision on timing of shuttle based on the latest weather forecast.

What level of fitness do I need to complete the Tongariro Crossing?

You need to ask yourself, can you walk for 19.4 km’s (7-8 hours), with two challenging climbs, of an hour each, carrying a day pack. Age, weight and sex is no barrier for your fitness, we have had two 85 year olds climb Mt Ngauruhoe on separate occasions, with their sons (a New Zealand male and a Japanese female) and then complete the crossing – truly amazing, both had one thing in common, they have climbed many mountains over their life time. By the same token, we have had 18 year olds over estimating their fitness and struggling to finish just the crossing in 8 hours.

This is not just a “stroll in the park”, but a serious hike over a mountain. To enjoy the experience you need to be moderately fit and healthy, you should know your body, but if you get to soda springs (about 1 hour in) and have a problem, turn back, call us and we will pick you up. Over the last 10 years we have only had to pick up three people, who felt they were unfit at soda springs.

We had a 5 year old New Zealand boy (His father insisted he would be fine, but was prepared to carry him, if need be) You should have seen his face, he was jumping for joy at the end of the track, and led the family out in front all the way across! (This is rare) We have a number of groups (over 70) who set a fitness goal and are physically and mentally prepared for the challenge of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. You are the only person who can answer the question of fitness, if you exercise and enjoy the outdoors, you will be fine, but if you live a sedentary life style then we can recommend plenty of alternative walks from ½ hour to 5 hours.

What do you recommend in my day pack for the Tongariro Crossing?
  • Warm hat & gloves
  • Sunscreen and Sun hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Polyprop thermals, plenty of warm wool layers
  • Waterproof jacket and over pants
  • Sturdy footwear
  • Map and Mobile Phone
  • Packed Lunch & snacks
  • Minimum of 1.5 litres of water


What gear is compulsory?
  • Water and Food
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Plenty of warm layers

We will not transport you to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, if you do not have the compulsory gear to hike in the mountains. This is for your safety, if you don’t have it, you can hire what is required, think of it as insurance, it is better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!

Can I wear my trainer on the Tongariro Crossing?

On a nice sunny day, if you had a good pair of trainers with plenty of tread on the bottom, this should be fine. As you are going over rocky terrain the ankle support from strong walking shoes or boots are recommend especially in wet or icy conditions.

Do I need a guide on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing?

Yes in winter you need a guide unless you are very experienced in mountain alpine conditions and in the use of crampons and an ice axe.

In summer this is a personal preference and we can recommend some wonderful licenced guides to add to your experience.

What times does the Tongariro shuttle leave?

Normally 6.30am, 7.30am from National Park, these times can vary due to weather conditions and numbers; sometimes we leave earlier or later, we want you on the mountain at the best possible time. Just check with us the night before.

What time do you pick up at the end of the day?

We normally allow 7-8 hours for the crossing or 8 1/2 if you are looking at doing the side tracks.
What happens if the shuttle service is cancelled? We can transfer your booking to another date or recommend other hikes you may wish to do.

Are there any toilets on the Tongariro Crossing?

There are toilets at the Mangatepopo Road end (the start of the Crossing), the Mangatepopo Hut, Soda Springs, (start of the devils staircase), Ketetahi Hut and the Ketetahi Road end (the finish of the Crossing).

What is the distance of the Tongariro Crossing?

About 19.4km’s.

What is the highest point on the Tongariro Crossing?

Red Crater at 1886m.

What should I do if I injure myself on the Tongariro Crossing track?

If you are okay to walk, you need to call us and let us know where you are on the crossing, so we can arrange a later pick up time. If you cannot walk or move you need to dial 111 to request help. It is really important to stay warm until help arrives, it can take time for search and rescue to walk in to find you or for a helicopter to be dispatched.

Can we drive ourselves to the beginning of the Tongariro Crossing?

This is a one way track, the Tongariro Crossing starts at the end of Mangatepopo Road, about 7km off State Highway 47. It finishes at the Ketetahi Road on the other side of Mt Tongariro, approximately 25km’s by road back to the Mangatepopo road end. It is also not the safest place to park your car all day, cars have been broken into and belongings taken in the past.

We recommend for your personal safety to take a shuttle. We know you are on the crossing and you are accounted for when you are safely off the mountain. Safety is your responsibility you need to tell someone your plans; it may save your life.

Can I refill my water bottle on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing?

Mt Tongariro is a volcano, therefore the water is not drinkable; it is very important to take ample water with you.

What side track would you recommend?

The highlight of the Tongariro Crossing is Red Crater and the lakes so enjoy the Tongariro Crossing and if you want to make a summit, go out to Mt Tongariro and you will get your 360 degrees views.

Should I summit Mt Ngauruhoe?

This is not a mark track and should not be climbed in cloud, mist, rain or snow. The weather in the Tongariro National Park can change rapidly; you need a clear day to ensure that you come down to the marked Tongariro Alpine Crossing Track.

If you get vertigo you should not consider it! You need to be very fit to climb this and to complete the Tongariro Alpine Crossing; it is very difficult to climb on all the scree (rubble and gravel) you can take one step forward and slide three steps down.

You can be on your hands and knees for most of the way up as it is very steep in places. You must be careful as climbers can dislodge rocks above you; a fast moving volcanic rock can hurt you if you get hit. It will take an extra 2-3 hours return to south Crater.

Mt Ngauruhoe (Mt Doom) on a clear day has spectacular views from the summit.