Wild Things - NZ Trail Running Club
NZ Trail Running Club

Login



don't have an account?

Tongariro Northern Circuit, Manawatu - Wanganui

Trail Directory proudly supported by Further Faster

Update Your Header Picture

Tongariro Northern CircuitIntermediate

Submitted by Mal Law

Info Info

Trail Information

44.50km

1600m

1600m

 

Manawatu - Wanganui

National Park

Back country - remote

Loop

Mountainous

Native bush
Open ridges/tops
Volcanic

Intermediate

10:00 (Slow)
7:30 (Moderate)
5:00 (Fast)

-7.2%

+6.6%

Download PDF Guide
View trail on RunHunters App

Fastest Known Times (FKTs)

Men

Show more

Women

Show more

Filter FKTs

The more , the harder the FKT will be to beat. Learn about Fastest Known Times.

Missing your time?

Register or login as a VIP and get yourself on the FKT leaderboard!

Register Now

Description

Please note: all peaks in the Tongariro National Park are sacred to the local hapū Ngāti Hikairo Ki Tongariro, who ask that we show respect by not climbing them. Access is not actually  banned, so this is a conscience call for all trampers and runners.

This Great Walk is a loop that could be run in either direction but it is highly recommended to go CLOCKWISE so as to avoid having to climb up a huge scree field and avoid the disappointment of not getting to run down this instead.

Begin 100 metres below the Whakapapa Visitor Centre at Ngauruhoe Place and along the lower Taranaki Falls track. After about 20 minutes the Mangatepopo track branches off from the Taranaki Falls track. Heavily eroded in places the track crosses many stream beds and lives up to its nickname of "The Gutter" in heavy rain. Eventually it reaches the Mangatepopo Valley track - turn right and head up the valley (the Mangatepopo Hut is a couple of minutes off of the main track at this point)

The track follows Mangatepopo stream up the valley, climbing over a succession of old lava flows from Ngauruhoe. The steep climb required to reach the Mangatepopo Saddle is now a highway of steps and gravel. From the saddle the track crosses South Crater and starts the climb up to Red Crater (awesome views!)

At the top of Red Crater a poled route to the left leads to Tongariro Summit ( a worthwhile detour if you're feeling fit and frisky.) The main track continues on past the rim of Red Crater itself. A scoria covered ridge that offers a great scree run leads down to the spectacular Emerald Lakes and then descends steeply into the Oturere Valley with views of the valley, the Kaimanawa Ranges and the Rangipo Desert. The track weaves through an endless variety of unusual jagged lava forms from early eruptions from Red Crater which filled Oturere Valley. Quite magical on a nice day, or even on a misty day! The Oturere Hut is nestled on the eastern edge of these flows and is a good place to top up water supplies.

After leaving Oturere Hut the track undulates over a number of stream valleys and open gravel fields and gradually sidles around the foot hills of Ngauruhoe descending into a valley and crossing one of the branches of the Waihohonu Stream. Continue through a beech clad valley before climbing towards the ridge top. Waihohonu Hut is in the next valley.

After leaving the hut the track follows the Waihohonu stream and gradually climbs to Tama Saddle. This area can be windy as it sits between the mountains. Lots of work by DoC in recent years has taken some of the fun out of things and turned this into a bit of a gravel highway, but there's no arguing with the splendour of the landscape that you run through. From the saddle there is a very worthwhile side trip to the striking Tama Lakes, two infilled explosion craters. The lower lake is only 5 minutes run from the junction, while the upper lake is up a steep ridge and requires a fair bit of extra effort to reach.

From here it's then pretty much all downhill to Whakapapa Village on more gravel highway.


Trail Community

There are currently no members to show for this trail.

Find people who are interested in this run.

You must register or login to view this content.

Features of interest

Stunning volcanic scenery - you are running around a world-famous thermally active area.

This is the perfect habitat for a variety of New Zealand's native birds. In forested areas you may see bellbird/korimako, tui, robin/toutouwai, tomtit/miromiro, fantail/piwakawaka, and maybe New Zealand's smallest bird the rifleman/titipounamu.

You might be lucky enough to spot blue duck/whio in a stream, and in open terrain areas you may see pipits, skylarks, the rarer karearea/falcon or kaka, and even some wayward seagulls who live in the area in summer!


Make Up of Run

Untracked / Route only: 2%

Technical Single Track: 20%

Moderate Single Track: 18%

Easy Single Track: 60%


Route Data

Reviews:

You must register or login to view this content.

Photos:

You must register or login to view this content.

Your Trail Wishlist

All the runs that are on your To Do list (no limit).

Add to wishlist view wishlist

Your Trail Dreamlist

The runs you most want to do (limited to 10).

Add to dreamlist view dreamlist

Wild Explorers

I did it!
  • Access

    The Northern Circuit starts and finishes on Ngauruhoe Terrace, behind The Chateau.

    There's plenty of parking in the general area.

    16 km

    13 minutes

    No

    No

  • Staying Safe

    Moderate.

    Make navigation of this route super-easy by using the RunHunters app on your phone. View on RunHunters .

    Being a Great Walk the trail is clearly marked at all intersections. Take care on the areas that are poled as in poor visibility it can be easy to lose the track.

    Patchy.

    Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Cellphone, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries, Gaiters.

    There is water at all the huts.

    This is not a winter run - snow and ice can obliterate the track and short daylight hours make it unadvisable for all but the fittest, most experienced runners and even then only in good weather.

    Areas of this track are very exposed and the weather can change fast. Sharp volcanic rocks will tear skin if you take a tumble.

  • Blog Posts and Articles

Got a favourite trail? Tell us about it.

Share the love and add your favourite trail(s) to our growing trail directory.

Submit A Trail

Become a member today

Start enjoying the many benefits to becoming a member of our thriving community.

Become a member

Great brands at great prices with our VIP member's discount

Stay up to date

Sign up to our newsletter for latest offers and trail guides

Share this trail with a friend:

VIP Membership

Please register as a VIP or login to your VIP account to view this content.

Cancel Login Register

Membership Required

You can see up to three trail guides without being logged in but after that we require you to be logged in to your Free or VIP account. If you don’t yet have an account you can set one up here.

Login Register