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Mark Moxon's Travel Writing

Tongariro Northern Circuit: Introduction

If you're going to pick just one walk to do in the North Island of New Zealand, make sure it's the Tongariro Northern Circuit. Mountains, rainforests and river valleys are reasonably common environments all over the world, but active volcanoes are much less common and Tongariro National Park boasts a seriously impressive collection.

Route details

Most people walk the Tongariro Northern Circuit in a clockwise direction, starting and ending at Whakapapa. I found three days to be perfectly adequate, though a lot of people split the first day at the Mangatepopo Hut some 9km from Whakapapa, making it a four-day hike of 9km, 10km, 15km and 7km. It all depends on how fit you are; the first section is pretty flat but it does suffer from erosion, and it's probably the least interesting part of the whole trek.

Day Walk km
1 Whakapapa to Ketetahi Hut 19
2 Ketetahi Hut to Waihohonu Hut 15
3 Waihohonu Hut to Whakapapa 7
Total distance 41

As The Tongariro Northern Circuit is one of New Zealand's Great Walks, you need to buy a hut pass in advance and the huts can be pretty full in peak times. Get in there early; this is one walk you don't want to miss.