Most people just do the Tongariro Crossing, which, don't get me wrong, is absolutely stunning. Not enough people do the full Norther Circuit Great Walk, though! Plus, the crossing is flooded with tourists, less people tramp the overnight walk.
Take sidetrips to climb Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe. The latter is a bloody difficult and initially disheartening scramble up nothing but scree. 2.5 hours up, 20 minutes down. Still, I've been able to tell my friends ever since that I climbed Mt. Doom.
The Emerald Lakes also bear a mention. That whole region is magical... no other word for it. Let's hope Ruapehu doesn't go off again and cover the whole area in ash and lava...
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I have just returned from doing the Tongariro Crossing in the North Island.
This company provides a guided crossing in the winter, when the snow requires a guide for all of those but the most experience. In the summer they will take you to the base camp and pick you up on the other side.
As oppose to other agencies they have got a concession from the maori iwi that allows them to do the full crossing. Be aware of other agencies that may take you to the top but you will have to return the same way back
Climb Mt Ngauruhoe while you do the Tongariro crossing. Awesome views.
Tongariro is NZ's first national park and one of the first in the world. Ski on another active volcano - Ruapehu - also the inspiration for Mt Doom in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings.
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