Finding the Perfect Time to Hike the Tongariro Crossing: A Guide to Season, Time of Day, and Other Factors


The Tongariro Crossing is a world-renowned hiking trail located in the Tongariro National Park on New Zealand’s North Island. Known for its stunning views of volcanic peaks, alpine meadows, and unique terrain, the Tongariro Crossing is a must-do for outdoor enthusiasts. However, to truly make the most of this experience, it’s important to choose the right season and time of day to hike. In this article, we’ll explore the best time to hike the Tongariro Crossing and provide tips for making the most of your trip.

If you’re looking for more information about transportation options to the Tongariro Crossing in New Zealand, including shuttle services, you may want to check out

Best Seasons for Hiking the Tongariro Crossing

The Tongariro National Park experiences four distinct seasons, each with its own weather patterns and hiking conditions. The summer months (December to February) are the most popular time to hike, with mild temperatures and long daylight hours. However, this is also the busiest time, with large crowds and limited parking. The autumn months (March to May) offer cooler temperatures and fewer crowds, making for a more peaceful hiking experience. The winter months (June to August) bring snow and ice to the trail, creating a unique and challenging experience for more experienced hikers. The spring months (September to November) bring unpredictable weather, but also stunning wildflowers and baby lambs in the alpine meadows.

While the summer months are the most popular, we recommend hiking the Tongariro Crossing in the autumn or spring for a more peaceful and less crowded experience. However, it’s important to check the weather forecast and trail conditions before embarking on your hike.

Best Time of Day for Hiking the Tongariro Crossing

In addition to choosing the right season, it’s important to consider the time of day when planning your Tongariro Crossing hike. Hiking early in the morning (before 8am) or late in the afternoon (after 3pm) can provide a more peaceful experience and avoid the crowds. Additionally, hiking during these times can provide stunning views of the sunrise or sunset over the volcanic peaks.

It’s important to note that hiking in the afternoon can also bring unpredictable weather, as the afternoon is when weather patterns tend to shift in the Tongariro National Park. It’s important to check the weather forecast and plan accordingly, especially if you’re hiking in the winter months.

Other Factors to Consider

In addition to season and time of day, there are other factors to consider when planning your Tongariro Crossing hike. Permits are required for all hikers, and it’s important to book in advance to secure your spot. Trail conditions can also vary, with stream crossings and rocky terrain to navigate. Proper hiking gear, including sturdy hiking shoes and warm layers, is essential for a safe and enjoyable hike.

It’s also important to consider transportation to and from the trailhead, as parking can be limited and shuttle services may be necessary. Finally, it’s important to respect the environment and follow Leave No Trace principles to preserve the natural beauty of the Tongariro National Park.


The Tongariro Crossing is a must-do hike for outdoor enthusiasts visiting New Zealand. By choosing the right season and time of day, and considering other factors such as permits and trail conditions, you can make the most of your experience. We recommend hiking in the autumn or spring, and planning for an early morning or late afternoon hike to avoid the crowds and enjoy stunning views of the sunrise or sunset. With proper planning and preparation, the Tongariro Crossing can be an unforgettable experience.