This guide is for anyone that wishes to experience real New Zealand. Just remain present and take it all in. Oh, and make sure that camera is waterproof aye’.

New Zealands North Island - Tongariro Crossing and the home of Mt Doom.

New Zealands North Island - Tongariro Crossing and the home of Mt Doom.

New Zealand’s Great Walks

There are 9 walks in New Zealand that are so good that we call them ‘great walks’. These are spread across the North and South Islands of New Zealand, from the Tongariro Crossing and Lake Waikaremoana, both in the middle of the North Island, right down to the Rakiura Track on Stewart Island, located at the bottom of the South Island.

Each of the nine Great Walks has it’s own unique character and they range from a day’s walk to a six day hike. So wether you’re a keen hiker or you just want to surround yourself in leaves and water, you have a few weeks to spend here and you are reasonably fit and healthy, all are going to be worth exploring.

Among them are walks that have been voted as the best hiking trails in the whole wide world and as you can see from the photo above, the world might not be all that flat. But we don’t judge, the volcanic sulphur pool looks pretty flat.

Crossing in the Summer Season.

Crossing in the Summer Season.

Tongariro Crossing




We are mentioning Tongariro Crossing here first because it’s the closest walk to Auckland. With about a 5 hour drive South, Tongariro Crossing is part of the 3 to 4 day hike that is the Tongiriro Northern Circuit, which we will also mention later in the guide.

Those short on time or just want to see Mt Doom and some sulphur pools or the lush blue Emerald lakes that fill the volcanic craters at 1730m high in the mountain, might find this days walk satisfying enough. With it’s World Heritage status, it truely has some of the best scenery we have seen and we recommend it to everyone who travels with us.

This is a one-way walk and you should allow for 5-9 hrs, depending on how slow you walk. To get to the start, you will need to book a shuttle bus that leaves from the local village. They will drop you off one end of the track and pick you up at the other. If you are staying the night at a bed and breakfast, you can book the shuttle here and they will pick you up outside the door, and drop you off outside the door when you’re done.

If you’ve had a few beers the night before and you’re a bit worse for wear, or you and your buddy are not early morning risers, then there’s a good chance you will see more people on the walk. Our tip here - BOOK THE EARLIEST WALK FOR UNCROWDED SCENES!

Tongariro Crossing Map, Altitude and Amenities.

Tongariro Crossing Map, Altitude and Amenities.

Know Before You Go

Change in elevation - + / - 1196M

Hazards - Tongiriro Crossing is an alpine environment with rapidly changing weather conditions at all times of the year. It is common to experience strong wind, high rainfall, heavy snowfall and rapid changes in temperature, even in summer. Check the MetService weather report here.

Volcanic risk - This is an active volcanic area, and eruptions are possible at any time without warning. Active volcanic vents on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing are Mount Ngauruhoe (Mt Doom), Red Crater, and Te Maari Craters. Volcanic hazard zones surround all of these vents. If you are within one of these areas when an eruption happens, you may be in danger. Find out more about the risk of volcanic activity here.

Winter snow - Do not attempt this trip when snow is present unless you are experienced in the backcountry and have an ice axe, crampons and are experienced in avalanche terrain. In winter, the use of a guide is highly recommended. Get updated avalanche forecasts here.

Getting ready for a day hike -

  • Plenty of drinking water - water along the track is not suitable for drinking.

  • Food - energy bars, nuts, sandwich, general snacks.

  • Clothing - A water/windproof jacket and pants, hat and gloves, sunscreen and wear warm, layered clothing, sturdy and comfortable footwear such as tramping boots.

  • Gear - Head torch and mobile phone.

Tongariro Northern Circuit


DURATION - 43.1KM - LOOP - 3 to 4 Days


For those that have the endurance to achieve greater things and the time to spend 3 to 4 days in the bush, the Tongariro Northern Circuit is the extended version of the Tongariro Crossing.

On this hike you will journey through active volcano territory and feast your eyes on some of the North Islands most dramatic landscapes, glacial valleys, native beech forest, alpine meadows and emerald coloured lakes.

For this multi day hike, there are seasonal changes and bookings for huts can be made through the DOC Website here and the seasonal restrictions are as follows:

Seasonal restrictions

Inside the Great Walks season (19 October 2018 - 30 April 2019):

  • Bookings are required for huts and campsites

  • Huts have gas cooking stoves and resident wardens

Outside the Great Walks season (1 May 2019 - 24 October 2019):

  • Facilities are greatly reduced

  • Avalanche risk exists

  • Experience is required

  • Bookings are not required – huts and campsites are first come, first served

Tongiriro Northern Circuit - Quiver South Map

Lake Waikaremoana


DURATION - 46KM - ONE WAY - 3 to 4 Days


Lake Waikaremoana is the Maori meaning of ‘The Sea of Rippling Waters’. Here you can follow the pristine shoreline passing giant podocarp trees and remote beaches, and enjoy breathtaking views from Panekire Bluff.

This area has a rich Maori connection and is one of our favourite destinations to feel and soak up the rich spiritual history of the Te Urewera area.

Gandalfs backyard, enjoying views from the Panekire Bluff.

Gandalfs backyard, enjoying views from the Panekire Bluff.


  • Incredible views from Panekire Bluff.

  • The spectacular Korokoro Falls drop off a sheer cliff amidst rain forest.

  • Marvel at giant native trees and stumble upon beautiful remote beaches.

  • The uninterrupted morning birdsong.

Lake Waikaremoana great walk - Quiver South


Lake Waikaremoana can be walked either from Onepoto in the south or Hopuruahine in the north. It's not a circuit track and is described here from Onepoto.

For a 3 night / 4 day trip:

  • Day 1 - Onepoto to Panekire Hut

  • Day 2 - Panekire Hut to Waiopaoa Hut

  • Day 3 - Waiopaoa Hut to Marauiti Hut

  • Day 4 - Marauiti Hut to Hopuruahine

Bookings can be made here and for more information please visit the DOC Website.