Ruapehu Crater Walk


Ruapehu Crater Lake 1995 Ruapehu Crater Lake 1995

This is a terrific hike in Tongariro National Park, in my opinion second only to Tongariro Crossing. From the Top o' the Bruce you can use chair lifts to get rid of some 1100m of not so interesting height. From there it's a 1.5-2h hike to the Dome Shelter from where the views of the crater are incredible.

The facts:

Start/ End Top o' the Bruce to Ruapehu Crater Lake and back to Top o' the Bruce
Distance to trail head/end National Park: 20km/ 45min
Length of hike 6h (3h one way)
Terrain Rough paths/ routes through rocky terrain or snow and ice fields
Rating Fairly easy walking, medium strenous hike (600m in height). Great views of Crater Lake, summit area, and surroundings.
Hazards Potentially dangerous: (steam) eruptions from Crater Lake, lahars, on snow/ ice: slippery slopes with steep drops
Tips Even im summer it can get cold and icy. Bring sturdy hiking boots, long trousers, warm fleece sweater, waterproof jacket & trousers, mittens, sun glasses, and a dry T-shirt to change in after you sweat all your stuff dripping wet on the way to the top

Background/ Orientation

Tongariro National Park from Space

Tongariro National Park from Space (NASA)

THE feature of Ruapehu is its Crater Lake which is situated in a wide summit plateau. On the satellite image Ruapehu, Tongariro, and Ngauruhoe are clearly visible. It's even possible to spot the Crater Lake (the dark area in the white snow where the cursor positions on).

Ruapehu was quiet until 1995 when it erupted in September and again in Oktober 1996. The Crater Lake has been emptied, and the expelled water caused lahars in different areas of the mountain. Skiing was wrecked in two consecutive seasons by ash deposited on the slopes.

The trail takes you up and over the summit plateau to the Dome with great views of the summit area, Crater Lake, and the surroundings (Taranaki might be visible!).

Getting There

Tongariro Suroundings

Tongariro Suroundings

From National Park, (Erua on the map in just 0.5km down south) head east on 47 direction of Taupo.

Turn right to Whakapapa Village on 48.

Ruapehu Orientation

Ruapehu Orientation

Follow the 48 until you come into Whakapapa Village and see the visitor center 500m after the hotel Chateau Tongariro (can't be overlooked) on your left.

Stop here, go in, and make sure the conditions are o.k. for a climb and that the chair lifts are operating.

Continue on the Bruce Road and park on the big parking lot in front of the restaurant. Buy your chair lift tickets and take off!

Park here, and don't leave anything in the car that you would regret missing when you come back.

Volcanoes of New Zealand Let's Go!

© 1999 Anita & Christian Treber