Tongariro National Park contains some of the North Island’s finest walks, all through spectacular and varied volcanic terrain. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing alone is often cited as the best one-day tramp in the country, but there are many longer possibilities.
During the summer season (typically mid-Nov to April) the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is by far the most popular of the major tramps in the region, and for good reason. Within a few hours you climb over lava flows, cross a crater floor, skirt active geothermal areas, pass beautiful and serene emerald and blue lakes and have the opportunity to ascend the cinder cone of Mount Ngauruhoe. Even without this wealth of highlights it would still be a fine tramp, traversing a mountain massif through scrub and tussock before descending into virgin bush. On weekends and through the height of summer up to seven hundred people per day complete the Crossing: aim for spring or autumn and stick to weekdays. Other ways to avoid the crush are to get one of the early shuttles and keep ahead of the crowds, or turn one long, arduous day into a relaxed two-day experience, dawdling behind the mob and staying the night at Ketetahi Hut.