Tongariro, Mt

Mt Tongariro, looking across Lake Rotoaira

Although lower than nearby Mt Ngauruhoe, Mt Tongariro is actually parent to the child vent of Ngauruhoe. Like Ngauruhoe, Tongariro can be bagged on a sidetrip from the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, but unlike Ngauruhoe, this sidetrip is a relatively easy detour. A trip to summit of Mt Tongariro passes near many of the key sights on the Tongariro Crossing, including Red Crater, Blue Lake, and North Crater. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing isn’t one of New Zealand’s most popular tramps for nothing, and bagging Mt Tongariro along the way makes it even better.

Maori Legend Ngatoro-i-rangi was on the summit and at risk of dying from the cold, so he called to his sisters in Hawaiki for fire. His cries travelled on the south winds, and firey eruptions were brought to the mountain.

List Status Official
Elevation 1,967 m (6,453 ft)
Location/List North Island, New Zealand
Region Central Plateau/Taupo
Location Coordinates 39° 7′ 48″ S, 175° 38′ 7″ E
Nearest Town/s Whakapapa Village, National Park Village, Ohakune, Turangi, Taupo
Geology Volcano
Translation tonga: south wind; riro: carried away
Recommended Route
Duration Help.gif 9 hours (one way)
Distance 20.0 km (12.4 mi)
Start/End Points Mangatepopo carpark/Ketetahi carpark
Difficulty Help.gif Hard
Track conditions Help.gif Track, Marked Route
Season Help.gif December to April
Sights Views, Volcanic landscape
Hazards Volcanic hazards, Alpine weather, Snow, Ice, Mist

Getting There

By Car

Most people taking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing base themselves in Whakapapa Village, National Park Village, Ohakune, Turangi, or Taupo, and all are with striking distance of the the Mangatepopo road end. The turn off from State Highway 47 on to Mangatepopo Rd is about 5km north of the Whakapapa Village turnoff.

Driving times are as follows:

  • From Taupo: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • From Turangi: 45 minutes
  • From Whakapapa Village: 15 minutes
  • From Ohakune: 40 minutes

Public Transport

There are a number of shuttle services which take visitors to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, and you can also use these services for a one way Mt Tongariro/Tongariro Crossing trip:

You can use one the follow shuttle services:

Taupo and Turangi:

Google Earth Map

NZ Topographic Map

Our Recommended Route

Mt Tongariro is a 2 hour side trip from the main Tongariro Alpine Crossing track. For this reason, there is little difference time wise between returning to Mangatepopo or continuing on to Ketetahi. You choice will depend on your transport arrangements, but we recommend you add Mt Tongariro to a Tongariro Crossing traverse.

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is well described at its page

Route Options

As an alternative to a day tramp, you can also overnight on the mountain. You could stay at Ketetahi Hut, or you could bag Tongariro as part of the Northern Circuit tramp (3-4 days).


Mt Tongariro and the Tongariro Crossing are located in an alpine environment. From May to Dec it is likely you will find snow or ice on some sections of the tramp. At all times of the year, the weather can be very changeable, and many many people have needed to be rescued from this environment (they were the lucky ones). You need to take appropriate windproof clothing and tramping boots. You should check local conditions with DOC Whakapapa (07 892 3729) and also let them know your planned movements. If DOC says not to go, do not go!

In 2007, DOC changed the name of the ‘Tongariro Crossing’ to the ‘Tongariro Alpine Crossing’, to better reflect the environment the walk traverses.

Remember also that Mt Tongariro is an active volcano, so be wary of steam fumuroles and other volcanic activity. You can check the GNS website for volcanic alert bulletins.

Don’t let all this put you off however, as in the right conditions the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is magnificent! Just make sure you go in the ‘right’ conditions.

Height Profile

Tongariro, Mt-2d.jpg