Up and over like a trail of ants – the Tongariro Crossing

Up and over like a trail of ants – the Tongariro Crossing


Tongariro Crossing
The Emerald Lakes near the summit of Mount Tongariro

On Easter Sunday, one of the busiest days on Mount Tongariro, we joined approximately 1,500 others and walked the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. It is the third time I have done it and while it is ‘no walk in the park’ the 19.4 km walk is manageable with a moderate level of fitness.

Tong- ants
The ant trail

Starting in the Mangatepopo car park the walk up the valley is gentle before a steep ascent called ‘The Devil’s Staircase.’ It is hard going but there is a great view down the valley and up to Mount Ngauruhoe before passing the South Crater.

Tong Chains2
Safely with the ropes

The terrain levels out before another short ascent along an exposed ridge but the ropes make the climb safe.

Tong- red
The Red Crater

Then the Red Crater comes into view followed by the spectacular Emerald Lakes with the intense opaque colours, caused by minerals leaching from the rocks.

Tong red crater
The Red Crater

The descent from the Red Crater down to the Emerald Lakes requires care as it is steep with loose scoria but the view remains captivating with the remains of a huge lava flow to the right. Steam vents surrounding the lakes puff out a strong sulphurous smell.

Tong team
The hiking team
Tong 3 lakes
Looking down on the Emerald Lakes

The track zig-zags down the side of the mountain though brilliant alpine flora, passing the site of the 2012 eruption which is still active and smoldering. DOC (Department of Conservation) have installed a warning system to get people off the mountains should the volcanic activity increase.

The 2012 eruption is still simmering

The alpine crossing is rated one of the top 10 one-day hike in the world, it’s just got to be done!

For more information –Tongariro Crossing

It is best to walk the crossing in the summer months, November – May. Transport is available to and from the track.

Jane Jeffries

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