How to Spend 1 Day in Tongariro National Park
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tongariro National Park is recognized for its natural beauty, geologic and volcanic importance, and significance to local Maori. With one day to spend there, don’t miss the 12-mile (19-kilometer) Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Here’s what to expect from one of the world’s best day hikes.
Morning: Set out early
The trailhead for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is easily accessible from Ohakune and Turangi. Guided tours pick up from most accommodations, and some hotels and hostels can arrange transfers for guests who want to hike independently. Get an early start on the trail so you can take your time. The first couple of hours include a lot of uphill, particularly the aptly named Devil’s Staircase. You’ll also walk through a volcanic crater that resembles a moonscape.
Afternoon: Begin your descent
Many hikers like to stop for lunch on the trail beside one of the bright turquoise crater lakes—just don’t get in the water. The second half of the hike is mainly downhill. Following a trail through dense native bush—a contrast to the rocky volcanic plateau—you’ll end at a parking lot, where your ride will be waiting for you.
Night: Soak in a hot-springs bath
However fit you are, you’re likely to feel tired after the hike. Time for a hot-springs bath to soothe your aching muscles. Options abound in Turangi and greater Taupo, including outdoor public pools and resort baths. The waters are naturally heated by the area’s underground thermal activity.