Tongariro Alpine Crossing Hiking Guide – Shuttle, What to Expect, What to Pack

Tongariro Crossing is often described as one of New Zealand’s best one-day hikes. On top of the incredible and unreal landscape, this area was also used as the inspiration for Mount Doom of Mordor in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

This guide is a thorough run-through and review of the entire hike, which does take a little bit of equipment preparation, booking in advance for the right shuttle, and being mentally prepared to know what to expect.


Water: Recommended to bring 2 liters of water per person. Food: You’ll need to prepare your own lunch and sacks. Waterproof jacket: You never know when it’ll rain. Acts as a good windbreaker as well.


In order to get to the trailhead, you’ll need a shuttle bus ride, and that’s where Tongariro Expeditions comes in.

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a one-way 19.4 trail. The track takes 6–9 hours to complete, depending on how you approach it.


Mangatepopo to Soda Springs

It’ll be cold at this point, so make sure you have all your layers on, but this is also where you’ll be the most energetic. It also helps that it’s very flat here.

Soda Springs to South Crater

The flat walk doesn’t last of course and once you start swinging right to face Mt. Ngauruahoe, you’re faced with a steady climb up towards the South Crater, known as Devil’s Staircase.

South Crater to Base of Red Crater

This section is incredibly easy again because it’s a flat open plain. Along the way, you’ll pass by a small lake, which will either be covered in snow or you’ll see some water.

Next steps

More amazing travel inspiration in the blog post!