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Prepare For The Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Be Prepared

It’s important to be well prepared for your hike, no matter the season or weather. And this means organising more than just transport for the Tongariro Crossing.

Some of our top tips are:

• Dress in layers so that you can take them off and put them on as needed. It can get very hot as well as very cold, so plan for ‘four seasons in one day’.

• Take plenty of water. More than you think you’ll need and a minimum of 2 litres per person.

• Wear SPF 50+ sunscreen and take extra with you.

• Food and water must be organised prior to departure as there is nowhere along the track to purchase these items.

• Gear for hire is no longer available

People celebrating at the top of the Tongariro Crossing

Here is a handy list of things to take with you:

Gear List

  • Cramp-ons (Winter only)
  • Backpack
  • Raincoat
  • Fleece Pants
  • Polar Fleece Top
  • Hiking Boots (or trainers in summer if you don’t require good ankle support)
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat/gloves/sock
  • Water
  • Sunblock
  • Lunch
  • Camera

Important weather considerations for visitors to the Tongariro National Park

Not all treks are created equal, especially those which feature hiking trails at the elevation of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

Experts call it the ‘atmospheric lapse rate’ - put simply this means that as we rise from the Central Plateau (800 metres above sea level) to Tongariro’s highest point (the Red Crater at 1,886 metres) you can expect the circulating air will become an average of 10°C colder.

This unexpected change in temperature is one of the leading reasons unprepared hikers can sometimes get into trouble on Tongariro.


For a variety of reasons, New Zealand’s sun is exceptionally harsh and can take international visitors by surprise. Tongariro Expeditions recommend hikers to be prepared with sunglasses, a hat/beanie, sunblock with an SPF rating of at least 50+ and plenty of water to counter symptoms of dehydration.


Unexpected winds can create cool, dry conditions, and for unprepared hikers on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing this can mean immediate danger.

As wind funnels through the mountains of the Central Plateau, it is important that visitors are prepared with a good-quality rain jacket that has substantial wind-breaking qualities.


Local meteorologists estimate that more than half the days in every year bring rainfall to parts of the Tongariro National Park; with the heaviest rainfall reported during the months of June, July and August.

A waterproof rain jacket is an essential item for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, and it pays to invest in a jacket which is breathable and wind-proof.


Advice from the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council

There is some great safety information and advice available on the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council website. By preparing well your experience will be more enjoyable, so we recommend familiarising yourself with this information well before departure