Today and tomorrow the shuttle bus operators advise they have cancelled due to unfavourable weather conditions. This is not uncommon at higher altitudes. To provide for weather issues, visitors need to have a “Plan B” and be aware of the wide variety of other tracks available at lower altitudes that remain accessible when the Tongariro Crossing is too difficult. The Tongariro Crossing captures all the publicity and these alternative options are never promoted enough.
In the Tongariro National Park region a combination of smaller loop walks offer a much better substitute anyway. There are no parking or delaying or crowding hassles and they offer more flexibility and choice if the weather packs in.
1 Taranaki Falls accessed from the short grove behind the Chateau. This provides a two hour loop walk in the clockwise direction combines a bush walk to a spectacular waterfall and a more exposed alpine walk to return. Don’t forget to walk behind the waterfall as well! View the video below.
2 Tawhai Falls. If you are into waterfalls then on your return, a second shorter walk nearby to Tawhai Falls is well worthwhile. (At the base of the waterfall tourists can identify the stone that Gollam sat on to eat his trout!)
3 Lake Rotopounamu On the return trip on SH47 stop off at the hidden Greenstone Lake for another two hour loop walk in virgin native bush – well sheltered and very scenic.
4 Tongariro River Trail After about four hours of walking that might be enough? If so, head for the Tokaanu thermal pools. If not, return to TRM and walk the river loop for another hour. From the northern loop the views stretch down the lower Tongariro River to Lake Taupo beyond. The longer two hour southern loop down to Red Hut Bridge features more variety with river views and a visit to the Trout Centre is compulsory.
5 Kaimanawas . Another big day out is the Kaimanawas where there is a choice of two tracks – Urchins Track or Umukarikari tracks. For keen fit trampers they can go up one and down the other. The views from the tops are vast.
6 Mt Tihia is another option on SH47. This is unmarked with no signage. Good views are available over Lake Rotoaira. More info is available from TRM.
7 Mt Ruapehu The biggie and the best has been saved for last…
If you are fit enough to comfortably tackle the Tongariro Crossing 20+ km then you should seriously consider climbing to the summit of Mt. Ruapehu – the highest mountain in the North Island. The distance is less and the views far better. But you need to select a really fine day with no wind. See TRM inmates in the following slide show: