Every year in early summer the bookings and enquiries from tourists wanting to tramp the Tongariro Crossing surge. And every year TRM spend many hours trying to persuade tourists there are far better alternative options.
But all the publicity directs them towards the Tongariro Crossing and they fail to consider the issues of crowding, parking, delays, heat (or cold!), vast boring distances, etc. So this post is to try to inform what else is available.
The first issue in the central plateau region is the fickle weather which can turn so quickly – as indicated in the short video by Kiki. They intended to include the ascent of Mt. Doom (aka Ngauruhoe) but clouds and cold weather closed in so fast, it became dangerous.
The weather issue is always a risk as walker have to leave their car at the end and take a shuttle to the start. Therefore once they start walking they are committed to finishing to get back to their car some 22 km and several hours away. If the weather deteriorates they cannot return to the start. For that reason alone we suggest other shorter loop tracks – like the Tongariro River Trail, Lake Rotopounamu (Greenstone Lake) or Taranaki Falls.
The combination and variety of three 2 hour walks offer far better options than a 6-hour slog. They combine a spectacular waterfall in the alpine landscape, a circuit of a beautiful lake in unspoilt mature native bush and an interesting river walk along a world-famous trout fishing river with views over Turangi and Lake Taupo.
The other issues of severe crowding are evident in the video with over 140,000 tourists every year – particularly on weekends or holiday periods – now attempting the crossing in all sorts of weather. Sadly, DOC have failed to control the crowding and parking issues.
If you are planning to do the crossing this summer, we trust the videos – prepared about five years ago – may plant some seeds of doubt. The crowding and other queuing problems are far worse now.
For the 9 km Ruapehu summit lake experience note the chairlifts in the video were replaced with gondolas in 2019. At the top is a large cafe which they claim is the highest in the southern hemisphere. Or at the end of the 2 hour Taranaki Falls tramp is also the Chateau Hotel offering “high tea”.
Meanwhile all the tourist information people usually preach is the Tongariro Crossing as DOC and the shuttle bus operators provide lots of brochures for that long walk. But every year TRM have to endure the wails of disappointment from tourists after they finish the crossing. So often we hear afterwards, “if only they had warned us!” etc. To get a more honest assessment ask any local motel operator who has to listen to the tales of woe after their tramp. There are better and easier alternative options with more spectacular views and the chance to opt-out if the weather turns sour. OK?. Have fun!