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Tongariro National Park

Tongariro Crossing in 1 day

Hi, my family of 4, 2 adults and 2 kids of 8 and 9 are planning to visit the North Island Of NZ. And we hope to be able to do the Tongariro Crossing. I have heard from my friends good things and we are keen to do it in December. We have started doing walks regularly ranging from 10 km - 13 km recently. WE also cycle regularly distances of 32 km and so on. i am wondering if these preparations are sufficient? What is your advice with regards to safety for my kids? Is it ok for them to do the walk?

4 Answers

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from New Zealand

Hi there and welcome to VT.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a great adventure to do, and a memorable experience to do as a family. Providing your kids are fit, they should be ok. Sounds like you are doing good preparation.
December is a good time, can at times be a bit crowded up there. The main thing is safety. Please tell someone of your intentions, so they know you are up there. For example tell your hosts.
Make sure you all have wind/waterproof jackets. It may be very hot when you set out, but mountains can change and become very cold and wet without much notice. Too many people get into trouble at these times. And take water.
The small stones get into your shoes and hurt your feet. A good tip is to tape the tops of your shoes/socks to stop this happening. Believe me, it's worth doing this. Even in the hot, take a woolly hat in case it gets cold. Keeping your head warm often helps so much.
So you will all need a daypack, to carry these things. You may be lucky and have a hot summers day and not need this gear, but it is essential to have in case things change.
It is more than a walk in the park, but there is no 'technical mountain climbing' so just some steep parts to clamber up and down. I did find that the down parts did make my legs hurt, so maybe you can do some walking up and down stairs to prepare for that if you want.
You can see my page and photos on the crossing here, be sure to view the "travelogues" at the bottom of the page:
[original VT link]

answered by
a VirtualTourist member

Thank you very much.

I am wondering if it is necessary to bring along fleece jackets or a light jacket is sufficient.

Which accommodation would you recommend?

1. near to park to start early
2. contingency plans in case of bad weather, to spend time?
3. do these centres rent out jackets and other equipment?

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from New Zealand

Unfortunately you must be prepared for the worst weather, because you just can't easily go home if it gets cold. I have seen the entire island clear blue skies and hot, but the mountain is covered in cloud and freezing cold. We do get rescues most years even in the middle of summer.
I personally would carry a fleece, and definitely a wind/waterproof jacket. The jacket can save your life. Depends on the gear, but often light jackets are neither wind nor rain proof. I am talking driving rain, because we often get that on the mountain.
Some people will advise against this and say mid summer they didn't even carry a jacket and were hot the entire day. Well they were lucky, and as well you must remember if you sprain an ankle, you are delayed up the mountain and it may be cold when you are rescued. This does happen every year.
With accommodation, naturally if you are near to the park you travel less, but many stay in Taupo and still travel early.
I might add though, if you are walking on the weekend, many kiwis will be there and it can be really busy. So the earlier you start the better.
But if the weather is bad and you abandon the plan to walk, then it's better if you are in Taupo to do stuff.
I'm sure there will be somewhere to rent jackets but you will need to google for that as I have my own gear I don't know about this.
Sometimes the mountain is in bad weather, but not Taupo. In Taupo you can go gliding, boating, hotpools, minigolf, shops, walking, bungy jumping, etc.
Walking along the river to Aratiatia dam and rapids is fun. Not sure what your kids will like though.
Having a car in Taupo is a benefit. Just makes it easier to get around.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Christchurch

I do not know what kinds of walks you do with your kids because the distance does not say anything about the topography. And the walk is not only 10 to 13 km but 17 km long, and up and down - with the endless downhill section at the end being more strenuous than the uphill sections.

My husband cycles 32 km without a problem but not even in his dreams would he do the Tongariro crossing. (I do all the big hikes alone or with friends... ;-)))

I would not dare to take 8 and 9 year olds on this hike (and and have not seen any of this age on the track when I did it) as once you are on the track there is no way back, and you cannot just get a pick-up when the kids can't walk anymore. On the other hand I have made quite some walks with my friend's son when he was this age, and he could walk quite well. But he started rock climbing in nappies already, so I consider him quite extreme.

You really have to think hard if you do the hike with such young kids. You know your kids best. I think it is impossible for us to make this decision.

As Pam already pointed out, the weather can change dramatically within a very short period. This can happen anywhere in the mountains but on an island this happens faster than in the European Alps or other such mountain ranges. The three volcanoes of the Tongariro NP sit on a plateau and are exposed to the elements without any natural barrier. They get hit by any bad weather from all directions. So you really have to be prepared for everything.

I for my case would do the hike in perfect weather conditions only anyway. Best you consult with the local DOC office and check the forecast on

You have to book transportation as this is - as the name already says - a crossing and not a roundtrip.

Regarding overnighting, there is only one place for me, and this is Whakapapa Village at the foot of Mt. Ruapehu. It is just a magic location. The Skotel has accommodation of all kinds, with the solid chalets being a perfect place for a family.

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