Northern Explorer & The Tongariro Crossing

Duration: 4 Days

Price: from NZ$975

Departure From: Wellington or Auckland

Departure Date: Flexible Dates

Tour Type: Independent Tour - Fully Flexible

Tour Operator: LOCO Journeys

Physical Grading: 3


The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is one of New Zealand’s “Great Walks” and we’re teaming it up with the iconic Northern Explorer rail journey to give you a memorable short break.

The Tongariro Crossing is a journey across a remarkable volcanic environment situated in the Tongariro National Park. The 19km trek leads up to the saddle between Ngauruhoe and Mt Tongariro across a landscape of different coloured and shaped craters created during different times in history, past volcanic rocks, mountain springs and emerald coloured lakes. Take in the vast array of colours and textures created from mineral deposits released from within the Earth’s Crust. On your guided walk you will experience all the popular sights while steering away from any crowds.

This 4 day short break also allows enough free time to explore the Tongariro National Park. It also allows you to have a day up your sleeve in case of adverse weather conditions. There are an abundance of shorter walks that you can complete within an hour, or consider these longer walks instead of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing:

Silica Rapids

2.5 hours return to the creamy-white terraces found among moutain beech forest

Maungatepopo Valley to Soda Springs

This is the first section of the crossing and a good alternative to the day-long hike. 3 hours return.

Taranaki Falls

A two hour return trek. The spectacular falls tumble 20 metres over the edge of a 15,000 year old lava flow.

We can also help organise a private shuttle tour of the area, or you might prefer to use your free time to rest after your Tongariro Crossing adventure, maybe book in a High Tea at the famous Chateau Tongariro!

Taranaki Falls Tongariro

If the Tongariro Alpine Crossing seems a little daunting we can swap it out with a half day walk or a private guided walk. LOCO Journeys can tailor-make your holiday – just let us know!

LOCO Journeys can tailor-make this tour to a journey that delivers you to your desired destinations, your time, budget and the train timetable.

Fully Flexible Tour

Northern Explorer & Tongariro Crossing Highlights

  • Northern Explorer Return Journey to National Park
  • Reserved Seating
  • Panoramic Windows
  • Licensed Cafe for snacks, hot drinks and meals
  • Terrific audio commentary telling the stories of what you can see
  • Air Conditioning and heating for those cooler days
  • Enjoy the open-air viewing carriage for that photo opportunity
  • Accommodation at the Skotel Alpine Resort
  • Tongariro Crossing Guided Walk including lunch and transfers to/from accommodation.
  • Return Trip on the SkyWaka Gondola
Sky Waka Tongariro

Northern Explorer Scenic Class Experience

In Scenic Class you’ll experience spacious reclined seats with generous amounts of legroom and comfort, panoramic windows, glass shelves and skylights. And to heighten your comfort, state-of-the-art airbag suspension has been used to guarantee a smooth ride across our rugged New Zealand terrain.

While onboard, you might like a stroll to the Northern Explorer Scenic Cafe carriage where you’ll find a great selection of hot and cold snacks, drinks and ice creams. Indulge in a freshly brewed specialty tea or barista coffee married with a sumptuous cake? Or perhaps toast your special journey with a bottle of bubbles or craft beer?

The Open-air Viewing Carriage is also great place to get some fresh air and enjoy the great outdoors while on the move. Capture the magical views on camera and let your short break begin!

Enjoying great journeys of New Zealand

Tongariro Alpine Crossing in Winter

In the winter months, from May to October, snow and ice covers much of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing track. If you are experienced in hiking with crampons and ice axe and in alpine terrain, you can trek the Tongariro Alpine Crossing during these months. Without alpine experience, a guided trip is essential.

Your Tongariro Accommodation

The Skotel Alpine Resort is a terrific mountain lodge nestled into the hillside on the edge of Whakapapa Village in the heart of the Tongariro National Park. The interior panel-wood finishing gives a warm alpine lodge feel far removed away from hectic city life.

After your Tongariro Crossing, you’ll enjoy returning to the Skotel and being able to relax in front of the fire or rest your weary feet in the spa.

The Skotel offers beautiful views, including sunrises and sunsets and on a clear night, the starlit night sky. 

Skotel Alpine Lodge

For a detailed itinerary, accommodation, the Northern Explorer timetable, departure days, and Northern Explorer fare conditions, please see below.

Click here for alternate North Island tours.

Departure Dates & Timetable

  • The Northern Explorer offers one departure on operating days.
  • The Northern Explorer departs Auckland on Monday, Thursday and Saturday.
  • The 4 Day Short Break ex Auckland has been based on departing Thursday, returning on Sunday.  If you prefer to travel on Monday or Saturday the tour will need to be adjusted accordingly.
  • The Northern Explorer departs Wellington  on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
  • The 4 Day Short Break ex Wellington has been based on departing Wednesday or Friday, returning on Saturday or Monday.  If you prefer to travel on Sunday the tour will need to be adjusted accordingly.
  • You must be at the station at least 30 minutes prior to departure.

Tour Inclusions

  • Return travel on the Northern Explorer in Scenic Class
  • Return transfers to/from National Park Railway Station
  • 3 nights at the Skotel Alpine Resort in a twin/double room
  • Tongariro Crossing Guided Walk including lunch and transfers to/from accommodation.
  • Return Trip on the SkyWaka Gondola

Tongariro Crossing Guided Walk

  • A reasonably good level of fitness is required. Walking time is about 7 hours including stops. No alpine experience is required.
  • Guide/s, transport between the base and the activity, lunch (vegetarian available on request at time of booking).
  • Available for hire personal equipment, footwear, and clothing to supplement that which you don’t have and need. A gear list can be provided and pricing for hire.

Pricing Notes

  • Advertised price is based on twin share, subject to availability and terms and conditions.
  • Pricing is correct at the time of submission but is subject to change without notice.
  • Tongariro Crossing Walk: Minimum group size is three people. Prices are based on a minimum of three people. Should the minimum number of three not be met they will charge a surcharge of an extra person(s) or re-book the client onto a date when minimum numbers have been met. If they are unable to find a tour date to suit you other than the date you have requested then they will refund the tour cost in full.
  • Domestic Flights not included. For pre/post travel arrangements please contact LOCO
  • Blackout periods may apply. Surcharges may apply over special event periods and over school holidays.
  • Optional Extras:   Skotel Full Breakfast is NZD$27.50 per person daily / Chateau Tongariro High Tea NZD$49 per person
  • Upgrade to Chateau Tongariro accommodation From NZD$75 per person – subject to availability and change, based on standard room only
  • Price is subject to change unless paid in full

Tour Itinerary

Day 1 | Wellington or Auckland - Northern Explorer Train - National Park
Your day begins by departing on the Northern Explorer rail journey into the heart of the North Island to the volcanic Central Plateau, arriving into National Park Railway Station before 2pm. You will be met and transferred to your accommodation. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure to explore or ride the Sky Waka - the country's most advanced gondola, high above the world-heritage listed mountain area. Journey over waterfalls and ancient lava flows and take in the majestic scenery of Mt Ruapehu and it's neighbouring volcanoes.
This morning you will be picked up and transferred to the Adrift Tongariro Base for a departure meeting at 8.00am. For today’s walk you will need comfortable, strong walking boots/shoes, hat, warm jacket and sunscreen. The weather conditions can be changeable and it is best to be prepared. You will be collected from the hotel by Adrift Outdoors for a guided walk on the Tongariro Crossing, one of the most popular one day walks in the North Island. The alpine scenery is varied – you will pass two active volcanoes, see lava flows, the active Red Crater as well as the brilliantly coloured Emerald and Blue Lakes. Lunch is included. Return around 5.30pm.
Today is a day at leisure to explore or if you prefer you can do the Sky Waka Gondola instead of Day 1. Ask about a private day tour of the surrounds. Book in a High Tea at the Chateau Tongariro. Or explore by foot the many short walks around the area.
Today you will check out of your accommodation and a transfer will be arranged to take you back to the Railway Station to meet your afternoon Northern Explorer rail journey back to Wellington or Auckland. Tour Ends.

For more information about this tour, price queries and updates on specials, please Enquire Now.