Tongariro Crossing Carpark Versus Shuttle Service: What Is The Best Option And Why?

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is considered one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks and the best day trip in the country.

The presence of the towering volcanic peaks of Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, and Ruapehu ensures that your experience will match this reputation. The park in which the crossing lies is a place filled with a combination of local history, breathtaking nature, and proud local culture.

The beginning and end of the route are located at different points. It is essential to plan your transportation ahead of time. The best option both financially and practically is to park your car at the Ketetahi parking lot at the end of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, and take a one-way shuttle to the start of the route at Mangatepopo. Here’s why.

Choosing the Tongariro crossing car park versus a return shuttle

Choosing the Tongariro Crossing car park service allows you to park at the end of the trail so you can rest easy when you finish your journey. As soon as you arrive at the car park in the morning, you can leave your car safely for the entire day. A friendly and professional team will shuttle you to the trail start point at Mangatepopo.

Your car will be waiting for you to pick it up at the end of the hike. According to many hikers, this is by far the best option for crossing the Tongariro in all freedom. Here are all the reasons why you should choose the Ketetahi Park N Ride service.

Enjoy the hiking experience fully without having to follow a strict schedule

To address the overcrowding that affects this popular tourist trail, the Department of Conservation (DOC) has restricted parking at the beginning of the crossing to only four hours. As you know, it’s impossible to finish the hike in such a short time, so if that’s your intent, you’ll have to look for other parking options.

Traditional shuttles operate on a fixed schedule. This means that at the end of the hike, you’ll either have to wait for your shuttle for hours or hurry to catch it. Either way, your day might be a bit spoiled, and rather stressful.

The Ketetahi car park comes with a one-way shuttle service from the end to the beginning of the trail that you can use in the morning. Hikers testify that this option is a great relief, as they can move freely and not have to stress all day if they are in time for the shuttle.

Knowing that you will be tired at the end of the hike, choosing the Ketetahi car park will ensure that you won’t have to spend any more energy on your transit. Your car will be waiting for you 900 meters from the end of the trail. This way, you can take your time and enjoy the incredible sites as much as you want.

All-day security service at the Ketetahi car park

The parking lot at the Ketetahi end of Tongariro Alpine Crossing is fully secured. You are welcomed by the staff from 7 am to 9:30 am, to access it if you have already booked online.

Once all the hikers are on board, a security system is in place until the car park closes at 7 pm. A private security guard visits the parking lot every hour starting at 10 am, and a security camera with online remote access and alert system is set up 24/7.

This is an excellent solution if you don’t want to leave your vehicle unattended on the highway or any other open area.

Bookings are transferable and fully refundable

To give you maximum peace of mind around your alpine adventure, all bookings are transferable and/or refundable up to the day before your trip.

In the event that a cancellation is necessary because of bad weather, the Tongariro Crossing Car Park company can reschedule your ticket to another day.

If no alternative dates are available, your ticket will be refunded in full. However, you will not be refunded if you don’t show up on a normally running day.

The Best Tongariro Crossing Shuttle Operators

Whenever you secure your parking space, you don’t have to pay for the shuttle. It’s already included in the price, no matter which shuttle provider will take you to the start of the crossing. You will have a be riding with one of 6 different shuttle providers:

  • Active Outdoor Adventures
  • Backyard Tours
  • Cross Roads
  • Tongariro Ancestor Trails
  • National Park Shuttles
  • Te Ha o Tongariro


You can be sure that there will be enough room for your whole crew! The car park is a covered area where hikers can wait for their respective shuttles in maximum comfort

Clear information and ongoing support

The drive to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing trailhead takes about 20 minutes. You will find the car park with ease thanks to precise instructions sent by email upon booking, as well as brown and white signs on the road.

You can call the day before to ask for the weather report and other useful information. One recent group mentioned that they chose their hike date in unusually bad weather. The company made sure they were well informed about the conditions on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, including:

  • All risks and hazards
  • Different possible alternatives
  • Indications of safe practices

A team also kept in touch with the hikers to make sure they were safe and that they completed the hike without any problems.

Drivers get you familiar with the land before you reach

The Ketetahi car park is a locally owned business. In addition to secure parking and one-way shuttle services, it offers cultural insights and incredible hospitality. Hikers receive a map and fact sheet that provides them with relevant cultural background and safety tips. 


The drivers are informative and entertaining, and give hikers a warm Maori welcome. Along the way, they provide historical information about the area with a humorous twist that relaxes them before their upcoming excursion.