Winter tramping on Mt Tongariro, Tongariro National Park
The Tongariro Crossing track has the reputation of being one of New Zealands finest one-day walks, taking trampers through a varied and spectacular volcanic landscape. Starting in the Mangatepopo Valley between Mts Ngauruhoe and Tongariro, the 7- to 8-hour crossing climbs gently around the edges of old lava flows and then steeply onto the multi-cratered massif of Mt Tongariro, offering stunning views of volcanic crater lakes, active steam vents and the perfect cone of Mt Ngauruhoe immediately to the south.
The route is very popular in summer, approaching gridlock on some weekends when hundreds of people make the crossing. However it is much less populated during the winter months. Winter also brings its own attractions: despite the short daylight hours, fine days can offer exceptionally clear views that are especially breathtaking when the mountains are snow-covered from top to bottom. In contrast to popular perceptions, winter is also often (though not always) a relatively dry and settled time of year, making it an ideal time for the suitably-equipped tramper to explore this raw volcanic landscape.
This photograph shows trampers descending into South Crater from the top of Red Crater, the Tongariro Crossings highest point, with a view directly across to Mt Ngauruhoe.