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The Wilderness 100: The 6 best trips in Tongariro National Park

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May 2020 Issue

Looking for a new challenge this year (or for the remainder of your life)? How about ticking off the Wilderness 100?

Looking for a new challenge this year (or for the remainder of your life)? How about ticking off the Wilderness 100?

Welcome to the inaugural Wilderness 100 – an annual list of the best trips in the country. For the website version of this feature story, we’ve broken the trips down into regions and linked to those trips we’ve got route notes and maps for. 

So, without further ado, here are the best trips in the Tongariro National Park.

1. Ruapehu Summit Plateau, Tongariro National Park

Best approached from Whakapapa Ski Field and by using the chairlifts to quickly gain altitude, this trip is entry-level mountaineering at its best. It’s a 3hr scramble in summer, slightly more in winter (you’ll need crampons and an ice axe) for the highest views in the North Island. There is a lot to explore here, including Crater Lake and for the adventurous, a winter camp on the plateau is an unforgettable experience. DOWNLOAD

2. Mangaturuturu Hut, Tongariro National Park

Nestled against the protective shelter of beech forest, the accessible Mangaturuturu Hut faces the western slopes of Mt Ruapehu and makes an ideal destination for a family tramp. From the Ohakune Mountain Road, tramp across old lava fields, past the creamy white cascades to reach the hut. DOWNLOAD

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The Tongariro Northern Circuit takes a lap of Mt Ngauruhoe. Photo: Eli Duke/Flickr

3. Tongariro Northern Circuit, Tongariro National Park

This 3-4 day Great Walk circuit of Mt Ngauruhoe has it all: mountains, waterfalls, valleys and lakes set in a diverse and unique volcanic landscape. Highlights include impressive Waihohonu Hut, Taranaki Falls, Emerald Lakes and towering views of all three of the main volcanic peaks in the park. DOWNLOAD

4. Tama Lakes Track, Tongariro National Park

While they don’t hog the spotlight like the Emerald Lakes, the Tama Lakes are just as worthy of attention – and likely far less crowded. Pass the spectacular Taranaki Falls en route to these sky blue lakes, all the while enjoying some of the park’s best vantage points of Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu. DOWNLOAD

6. Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Tongariro National Park

It may resemble Queen Street on weekends, but you can’t argue with the diversity and beauty of this day walk – often rated as the best in New Zealand. No matter its popularity, it’s lunar landscapes are otherworldly and the Emerald Lakes are fabulous. Want solitude? Start before dawn or strap on your crampons and ice axe and walk it in winter.