- Mt Ngauruhoe, Tongariro National Park
- 3-4hr from car park to summit
- From Mangatepopo car park
- BH34 and BH35
Mt Ngauruhoe, Tongariro National Park
Predawn glow illuminates the sky over the Kaimanawa Mountains, and then the first light touches the highest peaks of Mt Ruapehu, slowly spreading the much anticipated warmth to the rest of the Central Plateau.
The intense morning light paints the barren volcanic landscape in fiery red, highlighting the scars from its explosive past. Such surreal and otherworldly experience is the reward to anyone who sacrifices sleep and makes the predawn ascent of Mt Ngauruhoe.
Choose your weather – there’s little point heading up there if you can’t see anything – and be sure to pack your headlamp.
From Mangatepopo car park – or, better, Mangatepopo Hut – take the Tongariro Alpine Crossing to South Crater. Snow poles with tiny reflective panels will then guide you to the ridge of solidified lava that makes the climb a lot easier than walking up the loose scree.
The best spot for viewing the sunrise is at the south-eastern aspect of the outer crater rim, where you’ll get a good view of the craters of Mt Tongariro to the north and Mt Ruapehu to the south, as well as the light show to the east.
Afterwards, enjoy the exciting scree run on the way down the mountain.
– Zhi Yap Yuen