Hiking Tongariro National Park/Ohakune-Mt.Ruapehu District
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Currently the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is only half open from the Mangatepopo car park to the Red Crater and the Emerald Lake. This includes the Northern Circuit. You can drive to the Mangatepopo car park and walk up to the Emeral Lake and return in approximately hours.
Time 6-8 hr
Tongariro Crossing is one of New Zealand's most spectacular tramping tracks, and is considered the most popular one-day tramp in New Zealand. The Tongariro National Park is a World Heritage site which has the distinction of dual status, as it has been acknowledged for both its natural and cultural significance.
The crossing spans the length of Mt Tongariro (18.5 Kilometres) and takes about 7-9 hours. You start from the Mangatepopo Valley and walk over towards the Ketetahi road end.
The walk is renowned for its barren yet beautiful "moon like" volcanic landscape, unusual geological features, visible volcanic activity and views of the surrounding countryside below.View photos
Time: 5 hrs return
This track begins on the Ohakune Mountain Road, 15 kilometres past the DOC Visitor Centre.
After sidling down across open country from the mountain road the track descends into Mangaturuturu Valley beside a beautiful cascade flowing over smooth bedrock. The creamy coating on the cascade is due to silica and mineral rich water from an alpine spring. Waterfalls and bluffs complement the backdrop of Mount Ruapehu. The Mangaturuturu River is forded shortly after passing the Mangaturuturu Hut, 1 hour 30 minutes from the road. Evidence of the 1975 lahar (volcanic mudflow) can be seen here in the scoured treeless river banks. Lake Surprise, a broad, shallow lake set amongst beech forest and tussock, is reached after a steady climb from the river valley. View photos
Old Blyth Track
Time: 4 - 5 hrs round trip
This track begins on the Ohakune Mountain Road, 7 kilometres past the DOC Visitor Centre.
Following part of the historic route up Mount Ruapehu, the track climbs gradually through one of the few red beech stands in the park and then passes through kaikawaka and mountain beech until it meets the Waitonga Falls Track. When Blyth Track was constructed in the early 1900s, much of the route was through alpine bog. Logs placed horizontally across the track ("Corduroy") helped improve the muddy surface. The remains of this type of track can still be seen. For the return it is necessary to retrace your steps or walk back to the Mountain Road via the Waitonga Falls Track and then down the road.
Time: 1 hr return
Signposted from State Highway 49, 12 kilometres from Ohakune en route to Waiouru. Drive one kilometre from the turnoff along Karioi Station Road, cross the railway line and continue to Rotokura carpark.
The first lake passed on the track is Dry Lake. A variety of native and exotic waterfowl - dabchicks, mallard ducks, paradise ducks, grey ducks and Australasian coots - can be seen on this manmade lake that is surrounded by rushes, swampland and beech forest. Flat, grassed areas above the lake are perfect for family picnics.
The track continues on past Dry Lake to Lake Rotokura. This lake is surrounded by ancient beech forest and on a clear days Mount Ruapehu is reflected in the lake’s calm waters. The beech forest supports plenty of bird life. Native birds such as tui, kaka, bellbird, fantail and North Island robin are commonly seen or heard along the track that circles the lake.
Rotokura is tapu (sacred healing waters) to Ngati Rangi, the local Maori people or tangata whenua. Please respect this by not eating at or near Rotokura. Fishing is also prohibited. View photos
Mangawhero Forest Walk and Rimu Track
Time: 1 hr return
These two tracks begin opposite the DOC Visitor Centre at the bottom of the Ohakune Mountain Road.
The fifteen minute Rimu track, meandering gently through an understorey of ground ferns and kamahi and crisscrossing a quiet mountain stream, is a separate loop off the main Mangawhero Forest Walk. The high quality surface allows access for wheelchairs and pushchairs.
The Mangawhero Forest Walk begins by crossing the Mangawhero River from which it gains its name. Running over a bed of red tinged rocks, this river starts high up Mount Ruapehu and descends over two giant waterfalls, carving its way through the debris of previous eruptions. Following a faultline down the mountain the Mangawhero eventually joins the Whangaehu River.
From the river the track leads into a forest of kamahi, broadleaf and five finger, with giant rimu, matai and kahikatea trees reaching thirty metres or more above the forest floor.
Immediately after passing through a large cut fallen log the track crosses a large volcanic crater. The long process of infilling this volcanic vent has reached the stage where water, still lying close to the surface is able to support a swamp-type forest. The buttressed kahikatea, New Zealand’s tallest tree, will tolerate continually wet feet, while its close relative, the rimu, prefers drier places at the edge of this crater. A similar vent, a short distance to the west, supports an earlier stage of forest development.
Time: 5 - 10 min return
The track begins from a carpark on the Ohakune Mountain Road, 13 kilometres past the DOC Visitor Centre.
This short walk provides excellent views of a beautiful waterfall close to the road. Here, not far below bushline, the beech forest is stunted because of the rugged climate. Spectacular icicles form around the falls in winter.
Ohakune Old Coach Road
Time: 2 hr
- Access to the Ohakune Old Coach Road is from either Ohakune or Horopito. Visitors in Ohakune can either start their journey at the historic Ohakune railway station and ride down Old Coach Road before turning right into Marshalls road, or park and ride from the Marshalls Road car park, about a five minute drive from Ohakune.
- Alternatively, you can drive to Horopito and access the track from Matapuna road. The Old Coach Road is approximately 11km long, so it is an achievable return ride for a day, or a nice half day one way trip.
About the area
With a little effort you can enjoy some part of all that Tongariro National Park has to offer, regardless of age or fitness level. The Old Coach Road is a gentle track with easy gradients, and is suitable for members of the family of all ages to enjoy.
Waitonga Falls Track
Time: 1 hr 30 min
The track to the falls begins on the Ohakune Mountain Road, 11 kilometres past the DOC Visitor Centre.
- Tongariro National Park’s highest waterfall, the 39 metres Waitonga Falls are reached via a well-formed track through mountain beech and kaikawaka (mountain cedar) forest. On a calm day the southern face of Ruapehu is reflected in Rotokawa, the pools of a ridgetop alpine bog over which the track passes. On a clear day there are magnificent views of Mount Ruapehu and the surrounding countryside to the southwest.
- This track is rich in plant life with mistletoe on the beech trees and green hooded orchids and sun orchids along the banks. In the alpine bog sundews and bladderworts may be seen in addition to the usual larger vegetation of the bog, especially when flowering. Past Waitonga Falls, the track continues as part of the Round the Mountain Track, a four to six day tramp around Mount Ruapehu.
Bridge to Nowhere
Time:1 hr 30 min return Distance: 3 km
"Bridge to Nowhere" is a large concrete bridge built in 1936, but is now standing abandoned in the bush in the middle of "Nowhere".
Beyond the bridge the track follows the true right bank of the Mangapurua Stream and then leads along the true left bank of the Whanganui River to reach the Mangapurua landing. This section of the track is formed to walking track standard and is often used by river travellers to visit the Bridge to Nowhere.
This 3 km walk taking about one and a half hours return. It follows the Mangapurua Stream to the bridge from the Mangapurua Landing on the Whanganui River.
There are two ways to access the bridge site, either by a gentle 40 minute walk from the Mangapurua Landing on the Whanganui River, or by a two day tramp from Whakahoro to the north via the Kaiwhakauka and Mangapurua Valleys.