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Discovery LodgeDiscovery Lodge

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

"Life-Changing Experience" Writers of the Lonely Planet recommend the crossing as one of New Zealand's life-changing experiences: "Explore the pulsating volcanic landscape of the Tongariro National Park and tackle the Tongariro Crossing, rated as the world's finest day hike.

"Reputedly the best one day walk in NZ, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing traverses spectacular volcanic geography, from an active crater to the steaming vents and beautiful coloured lakes.

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a 19.4km point to point hike. For convenience most people take a shuttle to the start and back from the finish.

Earliest Tongariro Alpine Crossing Daily Shuttle

We have operated the earliest Tongariro Alpine Crossing Daily Shuttle since 2001. We recommend going early so you can enjoy peace and quiet on the hike, rather than walking with the crowds (1000 hikers per day average). Starting at 5.10am also means you can complete over half the climbing before the heat of the day.

Our Service

Depart Discovery             Start hiking 

5.00am                           5.15am
(earliest daily shuttle service since 2001)

Depart Finish                   Arrival at Discovery
12.30pm                         1.00pm
1.30pm                           2.00pm
2.30pm                           3.00pm
3.30pm                           4.00pm
4.30pm                           5.00pm


Note 1: When the 5.00am bus is fully booked, the next departure from Discovery Lodge is 5.35am, then 6.10am, then 6.45am.

If you want a later shuttle we can organise this for you with a different shuttle company, however we highly recommend going early for your own enjoyment.

Note 2: The Discovery Shuttle typically operates from the start of November through to the end of April. If you book transport outside this period we may organise a local shuttle to transport you to and from the Crossing. Therefore drop off times in the morning and pick up times in the afternoon will be different than the Discovery schedule above.

Our Rates

Adults                                $40 per adult return trip

Children 13 & Under            $30 per child return trip

Enjoy The Crossing At Your Own Pace

Our shuttle service at the finish allows great flexibility. You can walk at your own pace without rushing but not have to wait hours at the finish if you are a faster walker. You also have plenty of time for Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Tongariro side trips if you wish.

Bookings Are Essential

Our bus has 22 seats, so it is essential to book if you would like to secure a seat on our earliest shuttle.

Closest Shuttle Service to Mangatepopo Start, & Free Parking
Discovery is the closed shuttle bus service to the Mangatepopo start of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing by more than 5km. We also have plenty of free secure parking available. 

Qualified Local Advice

You are in experienced hands when you choose Discovery for the Crossing. Callum Harland (owner operator) was born in the Ruapehu district and has spent all his life in the area. He is an international mountain athlete with a genuine passion and appreciation for mountains, especially those of the Tongariro National Park. He has represented New Zealand 5 times at the World Mountain Running Championships, winning a team Silver in 2005 and a team Bronze in 2000. His best time for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is 1.25hr.

Minimum Gear Requirements

Waterproof Jacket (we can lend you a jacket if need be)
Plenty of warm layers
Sturdy footwear
Sun protection
Food & water
Map (we provide you with a free topographical map)

Also recommended:
Torch or Head Lamp
Warm hats & gloves
First Aid Kit
Mobile Phone

Note: You must have the Minimum Gear. This will be checked before you enter the bus.

Fitness Requirements

The hike is 19.4km. It ascends 765m and descends 1126m. There are two substantial climbs each taking between 45 minutes and 60 minutes to complete. Actual walking time is about 5 to 6 hours at an average walking pace. Please talk to us if you are unsure of your capabilities.

Safety & Weather

Our absolute focus is your safety and enjoyment. You will be fully briefed on the weather forecast including our qualified local opinion, five minutes before departure. If needed, we call the forecasters and speak to them in person for a much greater detailed forecast to give you the best information to make your own decision. If the weather forecast is dangerous we will cancel our service.

Tongariro National Park Weather Forecast >>

No Cancellation Fees

We want you to feel comfortable about attempting the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. If at any time, including at the start of the hike you don’t feel comfortable you can cancel for any reason, at no cost. If you have prepaid we will happily give you a full refund.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing Frequently Asked Questions

Book Now

Note: If you wish to stay with us please click on Book Online, book your accommodation, and then add Tongariro Alpine Crossing Vouchers.

Please book here if you are not staying at Discovery, or you already have Accommodation booked at Discovery.

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