Travelling from Rotorua to Tongariro National Park takes 2 hours.
Make sure you visit a supermarket before leaving Rotorua or stop in Taupo (a town 1.5 hours from Tongariro National Park) to stock up on food! We didn’t do this, and I really wish we had. For our 7 hour trek across the Alpine Crossing we had cookies, rice crackers and muesli bars that we purchased from the caravan park in Tongariro National Park.
On the way we stopped at Huka Falls. Here you can choose to just view the famous falls situated right near the carpark, or if you have more time to spend there are a few different walks you can go on. If you have money and time, they also offer a jet boat ride which looked very fun!
We visited Tawhai Falls the day we drove into Tongariro. We arrived in the afternoon, so we had a few hours to kill. This is an easy 20 minute walk return, to a lovely little waterfall.
There are lots of other walks you can do here around the park too. So if you have a few days around here there is plenty to do!
We were lucky and caught the sun setting over the lake as we were driving out of the park.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing:
This is a 6-8 hour trek, depending how fast or slow you go. It is a gruelling walk, so don’t plan anything that involves a lot of walking for the next day as it is likely you’ll be in a lot of pain! I like to consider myself a fairly fit, young woman but my joints AND muscles were in agony. Making my way to the restaurant for dinner that night was excruciatingly painful, I could hardly walk!
The last two hours of the trek are downhill, but feel as if they linger on forever. I felt like I was the star in my own episode of survivor, trying to get out of the national park alive and in one piece. However, it is a beautiful view and very rewarding trek once you finish.
I would say if you do have any knee problems or any issues with walking/are really afraid of heights, maybe sit this one out.
You climb to 1886m at the highest peak, so if you suffer in higher altitudes this might be harder for you to breath! For LOTR fans, this is when you walk up Mount Doom.
Please note that you will need to book a shuttle to drop you off and pick you up before and after the hike, as they begin and end at different ends!
We booked the night before at the caravan park in Tongariro National Park, costing around $30 PP return trip. There seemed to many other shuttles available as well!
What you will need-
- At least 1.5 litres of water
- Toilet paper/tissues. Some of the toilets don’t have toilet paper. There are only 3 chances for a toilet stop along the way.
- Good walking shoes
- A warm jacket
- An attitude of determination
We stayed just outside the national park at Oasis motel. It took about 30 minutes to drive into the park.
There are places to stay in the actual park at camp grounds, or more up market hotels like the Chateau Tongariro.