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Practical tips for the Tongariro Crossing and visiting nearby Turangi

by Elisa Flitter Fever
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Without a doubt, the Tongariro Crossing is one of the most spectacular hikes of New Zealand, possibly one of the most beautiful sceneries of the world with the volcanic landscape at sunrise. It’s New Zealand’s oldest national park and a World Heritage Site. In this article I will share my practical tips for visiting the Tongariro Crossing and the nearby village Turangi.

Tongariro Crossing volcanic lake
Tongariro Crossing volcanic lake

Hiking the Tongariro Crossing

If you want to hike the Tongariro Crossing, make sure you:

  • are fit enough to walk 20 km in mountainous/alpine circumstances, partly uphill;
  • start early (6.30h latest) to avoid crowds, you’ll finish between 13:00h and 15:00h (about 7-8 hours later);
  • dress in layers; it can be close to freezing point in the morning while hot in the afternoon, a wind/water resistant jacket is highly recommended;
  • check the weather in advance and only go if it is responsible and safe according to locals;
  • join a group or at least inform someone about your plans, who will raise an alarm if you do not return.

For more details see this NZ Pocket Guide.

Beautiful colors at Tongariro Crossing
Beautiful colors at Tongariro Crossing
Fantastic views at Tongariro Crossing
Fantastic views at Tongariro Crossing

What to bring

I would recommend bringing the following items when walking the Tongariro Crossing.

  • Sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat or baseball cap
  • Winter/water resistant jacket
  • Camera, smartphone and watch
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Hiking shoes
  • Food and plenty of water
  • In winter you may need crampons and a stick

Turangi – Tongariro Crossing

Take into account that from Turangi, the Tongariro Crossing starting point is still a 40 min drive, and the pick-up point is about 30 minutes by car to Turangi.

  • Starting point: Mangatepopo Car Park
  • Pick-up point (finish): Keterahi Rd

See map below. Are you backpacking without a car? Got nobody to drop you off at Tongariro Crossing? Then book a return transfer to/from the Tongariro Crossing from/to Turangi. For a private guided walk to Tongariro Crossing you should expect a completely different price level.

Tip: if you are looking for a travel buddy to walk the Tongariro Crossing with, join a group shuttle with your hostel or post a short request on one of the New Zealand Backpackers groups on Facebook if someone wants to join. This is how we met Alex from Sweden, Alina from Germany and Anna from Poland!

Happy hikers survived the Tongariro Crossing
Happy hikers survived the Tongariro Crossing: Alina, Axel, Tom & Anna
You can almost hear the Lord of the Rings music in your head
You can almost hear the Lord of the Rings music in your head

Where to stay

My recommendations for places to stay in/around Turangi, depending on availability, your budget and specific preferences:

Pretty pink flower in Turangi
Pretty pink flower in Turangi
Turangi Bridge Motel near Tongariro Crossing
Turangi Bridge Motel

Where to eat in/around Turangi

Turangi is not particularly overloaded with restaurants, so try to come in early or make reservations in advance to ensure a seat. In general I can say going out for dinner in New Zealand is pretty pricey. My restaurant recommendations for Turangi and surroundings:

Other activities

Got extra time on your hands and/or looking for other activities to do in and around Turangi, Tongariro Crossing or Lake Taupo?

I went horse riding and during this track the horse went swimming in the river with me on her back! It was an amazing experience. Check out my other article New Zealand: swimming with horses in Turangi at Korohe Horse Tracks.

My beautiful brave horse Uira at the Waimaro River
My beautiful brave horse Uira at the Waimaro River
Korohe Horse Treks in Turangi
Korohe Horse Treks in Turangi

If you are a thrill seeker who is not afraid to get wet, go on a Tongariro White Water Rafting adventure! It is also possible to book a beneficial Raft and Tongariro Crossing Combo deal.

A Scenic Flight over Tongariro Crossing is fun for everyone who is not afraid of flying, especially for those not able to do the walk itself or would like to see it from bird view perspective. A special and unique experience! Or this spectacular Tongariro Volcanic Helicopter Flight.

Soak your tired body at Tokaanu Thermal Pools in Turangi. Open daily between 10:00h and 21:00h (except Christmas Day). Admission fee is NZ$8 for public pool and NZ$12 for private pool.

Like fishing and/or looking for somehting to do with kids in Turangi? Visit the National Trout Centre (open daily 10:00-15:00h) next to the Tongariro River, where you can feed the rainbow trout, learn how to fish and about conservation.

And there’s more…

There are many exciting activities to explore and do around Lake Taupo such as:

Did you know that Taupo is THE place to be for skydiving? It’s even possible to do this with children! Check out Joep’s story who went skydiving above Taupo with his kids!

View from lookout close to Tongariro Crossing starting point
View from lookout close to Tongariro Crossing starting point
Huka Falls near Taupo
Huka Falls near Taupo

How to get to Turangi

A rental car and being able to drive around yourself gives a lot of freedom and flexibility. You will be able to see more in a shorter period of time compared to public transport, and the airconditioning is a bit plus too! Just make sure it is insured all-risk and that you bring your EU or international driver’s license.

Personally, when it concerns renting a car, I would recommend Sunny Cars, an all-inclusive, worry free rental concept with affordable, fair prices, great service and no unpleasant surprises upon pick up or drop off. I am a big fan and use them all the time! In most countries the 2nd driver, free cancellation up to 4 hours in advance and all-risk insurance are standard included. Ideal, I use them all the time!

Stray and Kiwi Experience are quite good, relatively cheap way for backpackers to explore New Zealand by bus.

Airports near Turangi

The closest airports to Turangi and the Tongariro Crossing are:

  • Taupo Airport in Taupo (TUO, 32 km)
  • Hawke’s Bay Airport in Napier (NPE, 96 km)
  • Rotorua Regional Airport in Rotorua (ROT, 105 km)

International airports such as Wellington (WLG, 345km) and Auckland (AKL, 315km) are distant. We flew from Hawkey’s Bay airport in Napier (180 km) to Blenheim on the south island in about two hours. You may want to check Skyscanner for flight possibilities and prices.

Air New Zealand plane at Napier airport
Air New Zealand plane at Napier airport
Fly Air New Zealand
Fly Air New Zealand

Camper rental

I can could write a whole seperate article about campers alone, which I will not do for now, but I would like to recommend to check out the website of WorldWideCampers.com. Available in English, Dutch, German, Spanish, Italian and French, offering an easy way to get quotes to compare and find the best deal for camper rentals.

Map Turangi & Tongariro Crossing

This map includes places and spots mentioned in this article (and more). This one is ‘smartphone friendly’; you can easily use it via the Google Maps app. Click the icon at the top left to open the menu and see the categories. To adapt the map to your own preferences and interests, (de)select a category. Via Google Drive you can copy the map to your own My Google Maps account.

Do I need a visa for New Zealand?

The answer to that question highly depends on your nationality, how long you wish to stay, what you plan to do (tourist or other), etc. Check for example the website of iVisa to learn whether you need a visa or not.


One thing is for sure: visiting New Zealand and walking the Tongariro Crossing is a great idea, if you are fot enough and the conditions are right. Have fun!! Should you have any question or additional tip, please leave a comment below.

Looking for more travel inspiration and tips for New Zealand? Check out the New Zealand Blog Archives.

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Last Updated on 06/24/2022 by Elisa Flitter Fever

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