Driving Time (if you hike the Tongariro Crossing): 150km, around 2 hours
- If you’re hiking the Tongariro Crossing, which is known as one of the best day-hikes in the world, drive to the Ketitahi security carpark and take a shuttle to Mangetepopo, from where you can walk back to your vehicle (its a one-way hike).
- From Taupo, you’ll first make your way alongside the blue of Lake Taupo to Turangi.
- A detour of 2km from Turangi leads to Tokaanu Thermal Walk. This short walk gives you a glimpse of a natural thermal area. See steaming hot mineral pools and spluttering mud pools. The Maori used this area as a geothermal resource for cooking, bathing and leisure.
- Continue to Whakapapa, location of New Zealand’s largest skifield. You can do short walks here.
- From Mangatepopo car park you can walk to Soda Springs carpark (2 hours return).
- There are also a number of walks of 15mins – 2.5 hours leading from near the Whakapapa Visitor Centre.
- Continue southwest to National Park Village, then south and east to Ohakune. From here an access road leads to Turoa skifield.
- Waitonga Falls || Located about half way along the drive up Ruapehu from Ohakune (on the road leading to Turoa ski field), is the hike to the 39m Waitonga Falls – the highest in Tongariro National Park. Hike is 4km return, taking around 90 minutes.
- From Ohakune, you can head east to join the desert road, and follow it back north toward Turangi and subsequently Taupo. Great views of Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngauruhoe (‘Mt Doom’, in Lord of the Rings) on this stretch.