Where to Stay While Hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Anytime you walk the Tongariro Alpine Crossing you will need accommodation ( unless you live in the area).

This is because, for those doing the one day hike, there is no accommodation on the crossing itself.

There are a few main things to consider when it comes to Tongariro Crossing accommodation.

How far is your accommodation to the Tongariro Crossing?

When you walk the crossing you’ll generally start between 7.30am and 8.30am. So, if you’re staying over an hour away, you need to take the drive time into consideration.

You will also want to have a plan for transport and car parking – so you know exactly where to go.

We recommend that regardless of where you stay, you book a spot at the Ketetahi car park, which is at the end of the Tongariro Crossing.

The secure car park booking includes a shuttle to the start of the crossing at Mangatepopo.

This means when you finish the hike, you’ll be a 10 min walk back to your car where you can drive off on your own terms.

Otherwise from the towns listed below you can get a two way shuttle, though bear in mind you may end up waiting for a shuttle at the end of your walk as they generally run to schedules. This is why parking at the Ketetahi end gives you more control over your experience.

The drive time is one thing, but another factor that needs to be considered when hiking Tongariro Crossing is that the closer you stay to the Tongariro Crossing, the better you can judge the weather on the day of your hike. This is an important but often overlooked factor.

If you stay close to the start of the crossing you will see first hand what the weather is doing before you head out. This can be helpful when making a decision when the forecast is marginal.

You can see the weather from Whakapapa Village and National Park Village, but from Taupo, Turangi, and Ohakune you can’t really see what’s happening until you travel there.

How far your Tongariro Alpine Crossing accommodation is from your hometown or city?

Below we’ve listed drive times from Auckland and Wellington, as the two biggest North Island cities.

What facilities and activities are available in the town you stay in?

Most people that walk the crossing generally stay at least two nights, as it’s not uncommon for bad weather to stop your hike, meaning you need a back up day.

This means that you’ll need to think about things like availability of restaurants, cafes, supermarkets, other activities and facilities.

Tongariro Crossing Accommodation

There are 4 main locations you can stay at for the Tongariro Crossing, and they are varying distances from the Ketetahi car park.


This friendly town, located at the Southern end of Lake Taupo is an ideal place to base yourself for the crossing.

It’s a short 15 minute drive to the Ketetahi Car Park

There is a wide range of accommodation options in Turangi – hotels, motels, backpacking hostels and lodges

What’s also great about staying in Turangi, is the range of other activities you can do as part of your trip. White water rafting on the Tongariro River is the most popular, there are also several great options for Mountain Biking, fishing, hot pools and more.

  • Driving time from Auckland to Turangi: 3.48 hours
  • Driving time from Wellington to Turangi: 4.12 hours

National Park Village Accommodation for the Tongariro Crossing

There are plenty of National Park accommodation options, and these are popular for those wanting to base themselves near Mt Ruapehu.

The drive to the Ketetahi car park is slightly longer at 22 minutes, and while the small village is not as big as Turangi, there are still great options for food etc.

While staying in National Park, there are plenty of other things to do. There are popular walks and hikes, fishing and even stand up paddle boarding.

  • Driving time from Auckland to National Park: 4.17 hours
  • Driving time from Wellington to National Park: 4.14 hours

Taupo Accommodation for the Tongariro Crossing

Utilising Taupo Accommodation for the crossing has pros and cons.

The pros are that there are lots of other things to do in Taupo – as it’s much bigger than Turangi and National Park, there are simply more options for eating, entertainment and other activities.

So basing yourself here for a few days is certainly not a bad option, and is where many international tourists stay.

However, when it comes to the crossing the biggest disadvantage is that it takes around an hour to get to the Ketetahi car park – much longer that from Turangi. As well as this it’s more difficult to judge the weather.

  • Driving time from Auckland to Taupo: 3.17 hours
  • Driving time from Wellington to Taupo: 4.55 hours

Staying in Ohakune for the Tongariro Crossing

It’s just under an hour’s drive from Ohakune to the Ketetahi car park.

Famous for being the home of carrots, there is plenty to do in Ohakune, especially in winter when you are in close proximity to the popular North Island ski fields on Mt Ruapehu.

  • Distance from Auckland to Ohakune: Around 4.5 hours
  • Driving time from Wellington to Ohakune: 4.45 hours

Ultimately, you’ll need to work out what’s most important to you as you work out where to stay. There are pros and cons to each place.

The one thing we do recommend though, is that you allow for at least one backup day for your Tongariro Alpine crossing experience. It’s not uncommon for bad weather to mess up the best laid plans.