To observe or coming close to a volcano is always spectacular. Some are dormant and you can even drive to the top. There are active ones that are spectacular to see at night and yet others require a permit to hike close by.
Early morning before the clouds spoil the fantastic view.
Tongariro Crossing a Must-Do on the North Island of NZ. Enjoy the awe-inspiring hike the entire year. To master the once in a lifetime hike - Consider three simple rules: Read on for our insights to hike in your right season, be prepared for the elements throughout the year, and arrange your bus-shuttle in advance.
Weather and Hiking Season
The best time for Tongariro with more stable weather for this inspiring hike is from November to April. Summer is the busiest time with up to 3.500 hikers each day. In March, April, and November crowds are bearable. Winter can be fantastic as well but snow hiking experiences or a guide are essential.
The official hiking season starts late October and lasts until the end of April. Nevertheless, the weather at the Tongariro Crossing can change quickly. Be prepared for four seasons in one day on this Alpine Track. The trail is closed in very poor weather conditions. Rain occurs throughout the year with its peak from May to September. The hike starts on an elevation of 1100 meters and climbs up 800 meters. Temp differences of ten degrees and more are not uncommon. The west part of Tongariro experiences more clouds. You may start with an overcast sky, and it improves during the walk after the red crater. You can walk the entire trail on your own during the hiking season.
The official DOC hiking season starts late October, although snow and ice can occur in the early spring as well. Temps can drop below zero quickly, even during the day. For September and October, be prepared for winter conditions. Mountaineering skills are essentials for these months. In November, morning temps at the trailhead Mangatepopo are on average below 10°C. The highest point the Red Crater experiences a maximum of 10°C during the day and minus in the night. Nevertheless, it’s incredible to hike here with fewer people.
The best months with the most stable weather for hiking are during summer from December to February. It is the driest time of the year, but these are also the busiest months. It’s often crowded on the track with up to 3000 hikers each day. In summer, the mean daily temp is around 20°C, it can drop to 10 °C, but it can be hot with 30°C as well. It’s much colder at the Red Crater, on average around 12°C during the day. Everything is possible in the summer, be prepared for intense sun, rain, and the cold, strong wind.
The official DOC hiking season ends in late April. Increasing rainfall from May onwards. March and April are still pleasant for this remarkable hike and less busy except for the Easter holidays. However, expect one-digit temps – maximum 10°C until you get to Ketehahi, the end of the trail. Obviously, temps can climb up to 15°C, but that’s an exception.
Expect snow in June, July and at higher altitudes until spring. Snow hiking skills are essential, better take a guide. Winter is the wettest time of the year with more extreme weather. If you want to hike the track during the coldest time of the year consider to wear different layers, carry additional clothes, crampons, and ice-axe. Monitor the forecast, spend a couple of days around Tongariro, and you may get rewarded with a blue sky and spectacular views. However, have in mind it is an alpine terrain hike, not an easy walk. Snow and hail storms can occur making the orientation difficult. Better book a guided hike which is mentioned below at our tour recommendations. During winter, skiing around Mount Ruapehu is common. There are two ski fields; Whakapapa and Turoa. Also, this is an awesome experience here.
Tongariro Crossing is known to be one of the most spectacular hikes in the world. Expect at least 600 hikers each day and 3.500 during the summer. The number of visitors is increasing by more than 15 % each year. It becomes overcrowded. Now it is discussed if a permit is required in the future. If the trails are widened the experience and beauty get lost. The situation improves a little in November and March/April. Since October 2017, it is mandatory to book a shuttle for around $40 pp. The tiny car park was always full. Continue reading to get more information about the new restrictions.
The Best Tours | Tongariro - Taupo - Hobbiton
The guided trekking tour is excellent. We highly recommend it especially during the winter season when there is snow, usually from May/June to September/October. You benefit as you can hire appropriate footwear and clothing from them. They even provide you with crampons and ice axes. You need them in snow and ice for safety reasons. Even more important: Weather can change quickly throughout the year, dense fog appears and without a guide, you may miss highlights like the red crater. This is the tour: Tongariro Alpine Crossing: Premium Guided Trek - booking via GetYourGuide: Easy, safe (mobile voucher) and very reliable. Meeting point at Adrift Tongariro in the village National Park. Return transfers from Taupo CBD, Turangi, Whakapapa Village, and Ohakune in the summer available at a surcharge.
When staying in Taupo, don’t miss the turquoise blue Huka Falls and the thrilling jet boat trip.: Hukafalls – Stunning 30 Minutes Jet Boat Experience. They pick you up from Taupo via shuttle. You'll also find our preferred Hobbiton Tour in the banner above. It's a must-do for every Lord of the Rings fan!! The Hobbiton Village is located in Matamata before Rotorua.