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Tama Lakes Walk, Ruapehu

Home  »  North Island Walks  »  National Park  »  Tama Lakes Walk, Ruapehu – Walk detail

The walk to the Tama Lakes on Mt Tongariro will take you around 2.5 hours to reach Upper Tama Lakes. This is a medium grade walk. The Tama Lakes are stunning with views out to Mt Ruapehu. Enjoy an awesome day out in the National Park.

Quick Facts

        • Location: Tongariro National Park. Central North Island
        • Distance: 17 kms
        • Time needed: 2 hours 30 minutes to Upper Tama Lake
        • Difficulty: Medium
        • Wheelchair Access: No
        • Route: Double back
        • Elevation: 1430m
        • Wet Feet: No
        • Toilets: No
        • Dogs: No
        • Mobile Coverage: Yes
        • Last Updated: November, 2019
  • Track Highlights

    Water falls, tussock and alpine shrub lands and beech forest.

  • Track Quality

    The first 10 minutes is very good. Then it turns in to a rough track all the way up to the Taranaki Falls. From the falls to Tama Lakes is very rough, muddy, slippery and very wet after a day of rain.

  • Hazards

    Be prepared for the worst. Zero visibility when (at any time of the day) the clouds roll in. Very bone chilling wind, DO NOT go to the Tama Lakes without a heavy warm winter jacket, gloves and hat. Very slippery after rain.

  • Transport

    Yes, bus from National Park

  • Water

    No. All creek water MUST BE Boiled.

  • Driving Instructions

    In National Park drive south for 200m. On the left is the Highway (47) to Taupo and Whakapapa Village. Drive on for 8.8ks to the turn off to Whakapapa Village. Turn right on to Highway (48), Drive 6.1ks to reach Whakapapa Visitor Centre at Ngauruhoe Place.

  • Area & Track History

    Mt Ruapehu erupted 15.000 years ago. So there is no shortage of exposed lava flows. In 1894 the Tongariro National Park was formed. The park is made up of 78.618 hectares. Call in to the Whakapapa Visitors centre, it is open 7 days a week. For weather updates and to watch the audiovisual presentation.

  • Best Things To Do near this walk

  • Map location of Tama Lakes Walk, Ruapehu

    Map of walk

Points of interest along the walk

In the map above, if you zoom in on the walk, you’ll see all the following track points and their location. Each point has photos along with a description about each one.

Point 1: Tama Lakes Walk, Tongariro – Start

Drive up past the Chateau and take the next turn to the left on Ngauruhoe Place. Drive to the end of the road. Three minute drive, all up. Again, there is information for you to read before you get under way.

Point 2: Tama Lakes Walk, Tongariro

This was the Waihohonu horse track many years ago. The walk starts with red tussock and small patches of Manuka. Then into alpine shrub. The track is a very comfortable uphill walk to the falls with four small gullies’s to cross. In a couple of places it can be a bit sticky. For the amount of traffic on this track, you would expect the track to be in a lot better condition. You will enjoy the short walk through the mountain beech at the beginning of the track so walk slowly the rest of the walk is in the open.

Point 3: Tama Lakes Walk, Tongariro

Pick your day for this walk. The weather can change from sunny with unlimited visibility to a white out in 30 minutes. If you get caught out on a whiteout, head back there is no point going any further.

Point 4: Tama Lakes Walk, Taranaki Falls

(1 Hour ) Cross over the Wairere Stream bridge and turn to the left and walk over to the edge of the water fall. BE CAREFUL. It is a long way down to the bottom of the falls. The rocks will be very slippery with the slightest amount of moisture on them. Refer to the Taranaki Falls walk for photos and description.

Point 5: Tama Lakes Walk, Tongariro

Cross over the bridge and walk up the gentle hill to the sign post, then turn to the right. From here the track is a little rough and muddy in places; don’t get your hopes up when you see the board walks, it is short lived. From here it is up hill for the next (15min) you can see the track wind its way up the hill from the sign post.

Point 6: Tama Lakes Walk, Tongariro

At the top you can see out (3.6ks) to the ridge you have to walk along to reach to upper Tama Lake. 7.8ks to south is Mt Ruapehu.

Point 7: Tama Lakes Walk, Tongariro

Almost there, just a short walk up the dry rocky creek to the turn off to the Tama Lakes (2h 20 min) or walk another (2h 30m) to Waihohonu Hut.

Point 8: Tama Lakes Walk, At the top

From here on, the wind can chill you to your bones, even on a clear day. There were no track poles to follow, just follow the ridge to the top knoll. You will have no trouble seeing the upper Tama lake from there. Or just before the little climb to the knoll, (50 m) cut over on to the ridge on the left and walk (100m) along this ridge to great views of the upper Tama Lake. From the knoll, you will see fantastic views of Mt Ruapehu (11.3ks) to the south. And to Mt Ngauruhoe (3.4ks) to the north, on a fine day of course.

Point 9: Tama Lakes Walk, Tongariro

The Tama Lake is (1314m) and over your left shoulder, Mt Ngauruhoe (2287m) and to the right Mt Ruapehu (2797m) and not forgetting the crater lake which has being throwing black ash over the ski fields, (2525m). Just in case you get caught out in bad weather, there is a 1m high circular rock shelter with no roof for you to sit beside, not as good as a hut, but enough to get out of the freezing wind. DO NOT rely on this shelter to get you out of trouble; You should not be there in the first place, watch the weather forecast.

All walks in National Park…

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Contact info

Mt Tongariro, Manawatu-Wanganui 3989, New Zealand

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