What do I need to bring?
Warm hat & sun hat
Plenty of warm layers preferably wool or polyprop
Waterproof jacket and over pants
Packed Lunch & snacks
Minimum of 1.5 litres of water (we have natural spring water on tap here at Discovery)
What equipment is compulsory for the walk?
Plenty of warm layers preferably wool or polyprop
And depending on the conditions:
Warm hat & gloves
Waterproof over pants
What if I don’t have all of the compulsory gear?
You can hire waterproof jackets from Discovery Lodge and other gear from gear hire companies. If you do not have the compulsory gear or cannot hire it we will not transport you to the Crossing and advise you do not go by other means. This is for your own safety.
Can I walk the track in my trainers?
Yes. If you are relatively fit and healthy and have strong ankles you can do the Crossing in Trainers. If you feel you need good support over the rocky terrain, hiking boots are a must. Also, if the weather is likely to be poor it is nicer to have that extra warmth and support from hiking boots.
Can I walk in my sandals or flip-flops?
No. The terrain can be very brutal on exposed feet and if the weather changed you will be in trouble. No one likes cold feet!
Can I walk in my jeans?
No. Jeans are not comfortable enough for this distance and if they get wet you could get cold, leading to hypothermia in bad conditions. It is also difficult and uncomfortable to walk in wet jeans.
How much water do I need?
About 1.5 litres of water is the minimum. 2 litres is better. At Discovery Lodge we have fresh mountain spring water on tap so save your money and fill up your empties here.
How much food do I need?
This really depends on your appetite. You need enough sustenance to get you through 17km of mountainous terrain. A picnic lunch can be nice at Red Crater but don’t take too much. You don’t want too much extra weight for the Mangatepopo Saddle and the Red Crater climbs unless you have a well paid sherpa to carry for you.
Do I need a compass?
No. If the visibility is poor, stay on the track and follow the marker poles. A compass would be of very little use unless you have good knowledge of the terrain so you could pick the safest route off the mountain.
Do I need a map?
Yes. This is not essential but it is always very helpful to know where you are going and where you have come from.
How fit do I need to be?
You will need to be moderately fit and healthy to have the best experience. There are two challenging climbs on the track, each taking up to one hour to complete. In saying that, we have taken people of all ages young and old, small and large, fit and not so fit. And everyone has made it home! I think knowing exactly what to expect on the Crossing and being mentally prepared for the hike is a very important part in deciding whether the hike is for you or not. If you are unsure you should talk to us at reception and we will help you decide for yourself.
Do I need to be an experienced climber?
No. The two climbs on the hike are challenging but more so for your heart, lungs and legs. The climbs are not at all technical.
What is the youngest person to have walked the track from Discovery Lodge?
5 years old. This is not to say all 5 year olds can hike the Crossing, most definitely not. If young children are walking with parents in the mountains and or the bush regularly they will most likely be leading most of the way on the Crossing. Inactive young children should not hike the Crossing.
What is the oldest person to have walked the track from Discovery Lodge?
94 years old. This is not to say all 94 year olds can hike the Crossing, most definitely not. Witnessing this was very inspirational. We did not actually take this person to the Crossing. She missed her bus and we took her home. We did have a 75 year old complete the hike with his family. When I picked him up at Ketetahi Road end his family told me he was blind! I wonder why they didn’t tell me at the start!!? We also had a couple in their 70’s climb Mt Ngauruhoe on their way over the Crossing! Also inspirational. It was his 72nd birthday. He went to university with JRR Tolkein so was most impressed to find out Mt Ngauruhoe was Mt Doom in Lord of the Rings.
My thoughts are if you have safely reached the mature years you probably know your body and it’s limits quite well and can decide for yourself, but if you need help with this let us know. We are more than happy to help.
What happens if I injure myself on the track?
If the injury means you cannot walk or move you need to dial 111 and request help. There should be many people on the track who will assist if you do not have a cell phone. If the weather allows, a helicopter will be sent to fly you off the mountain. In the mean time it is imperative you stay warm. If your injury means you can still walk give us a call on 0800 122 122 and we will arrange a later pick up if needed.
My knees are not the best, would you recommend the Crossing?
This depends on your pain threshold. Much of the 1200m descent comprises steps, some of which were designed and built for giant tourists. The knees do take a hammering on this hike, even good strong knees. Most of the time I tell people not to walk the Crossing if they suffer bad knees.
How fit do I need to be to climb Mt Ngauruhoe?
Very fit. This sidetrack takes an extra 2 to 2.5 hours so you need to keep moving steadily to catch the last bus. It is doable in the time but you don’t have the luxury of a long lunch break. The climb from the top of the Mangatepopo Saddle to the top of Mt Ngauruhoe is very steep in places, like hands and knees steep. This climb will take about 75 to 90 minutes. Best not to try this climb if you have an intimate understanding of vertigo. It takes about half an hour to come down.
Do we really need to take a bus to the start? Can we drive ourselves?
No to the first question. And yes you can drive yourself. However, 90% of people take a bus because it is the most convenient way of doing the Crossing. Let me explain. The Tongariro Crossing is a point-to-point hike starting at the Mangatepopo Road end 7km off State Highway 47. It finishes at the Ketetahi Road end 1km off State Highway 46 on the other side of Mt Tongariro. If you start at Mangatepopo end and finish at Ketetahi it can be difficult to get back to your car. There is no reliable bus service back to the Mangatepopo Road end. It is also not the safest place to park your car. There have been many cars broken into and gear stolen in the past.
What is the walking distance of the Crossing?
How long does it take to walk?
7 hours is average. This includes breaks along the way. If you walk at an average pace, say at the same pace you would walk down to the shops for some milk and bread, and made no stops, it would take you about 5 hours to complete.
What is the total climb of the Crossing?
About 800m. This is mostly conquered in two climbs, the Mangatepopo Saddle (sometimes called the Devils Staircase) and then the climb to the top of Red Crater which is the high point of the Crossing. Each climb takes up to one hour to complete.
What is the total descent of the Crossing?
About 1200m. So yes, it is true, there is more down hill than up hill on the Crossing but don’t let this fool you. It is still a tough hike.
What is the highest altitude on the track?
Red Crater at 1886m.
Do we need a guide?
No in the summer and yes in the winter. A guide can be nice in the summer if you would like commentary along the way.
What sort of terrain should I expect?
Most of the track is very civilised. DOC are putting in more boardwalks and nice steps, which we all love. I just hope handrails don’t come next! The terrain on the Mangatepopo Saddle is quite challenging and varied. It is very rocky and in some places it is quite slippery underfoot. Climbing and descending Red Crater you will also experience loose gravel. Descending Red Crater is possibly the most technically difficult part of the Crossing. It is steep and the footing is loose. Walking poles can be quite helpful on this part of the track. The remainder of the hike down to Ketetahi is straightforward although hundreds of steps could get a little monotonous if it wasn’t for the beautiful views over Lake Rotoira and surrounds.
Are there any toilets on the track?
Yes. There are toilets located at the Mangatepopo Road end (the start of the Crossing), bottom of the Mangatepopo Saddle climb, Ketetahi Hut and also at the Ketetahi Road end (the finish of the Crossing).
Is there drinking water on the track?
No. The water on the Crossing is not drinkable. You must take drinking water with you on this hike.
Which sidetrack would you recommend?
There are two sidetracks on the Crossing. The climb to Mt Ngauruhoe, and the hike to the summit of Mt Tongariro. If you are fit and you are the type of person who must reach “the top of the mountain” I would recommend Mt Ngauruhoe. The summit of Tongariro is less than 100m higher than Red Crater, the high point of the Crossing. So you don’t necessarily get a better view, just a different perspective. The view from Mt Ngauruhoe is spectacular. If you take our early bus you will be one of the first to the top. Unfortunately, when you come back down you will meet up with hundreds of other late starters. And you will see them all again at the Red Crater and the Blue and Emerald Lakes. Personally I would not climb Mt Ngauruhoe or Mt Tongariro. The highlight of the Crossing for me is Red Crater and the Lakes so I would want to get to these points and take photos before the crowds arrive. And the views from the Crossing are spectacular as well.
How long does it take to climb Mt Ngauruhoe?
This sidetrack takes an extra 2 to 2.5 hours so you need to keep moving steadily to catch the last bus. It is doable in the time but you don’t have the luxury of a long lunch break. The climb from the top of the Mangatepopo Saddle to the top of Mt Ngauruhoe is very steep in places, like hands and knees steep. This climb will take about 75 to 90 minutes. Best not to try this climb if you have an intimate understanding of vertigo. It takes about half an hour to come down.