Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Tongariro National Park, New Zealand (North Island)
Quite simply one of the best all day hikes you can do on the north island of New Zealand, Tongariro Alpine Crossing has some of the most diverse environments you'll ever see along one trail - old lava flows, springs, craters, emerald colored lakes and even a thick forest at the end of the trail. There is no possible way for you to get bored on this hike. A little over 12 miles, this trail is meant to be a one way trip and by the time you're done taking photos, it will be an all day hike. Click HERE for a good map and description to help you prepare.
Stay in an area called National Park Village. Many of the lodges/hotels there can arrange for transport to/from the trailhead at the Mangatepopo Road Car Park and the end of the trail at Ketetahi Car Park.
Because there are set times for each bus that will transport you, we recommend 1) arriving with a rental car, 2) parking your rental at the end of the trail early in the morning on the day of your hike, 3) pre-arrange for transport from the end of the trail where your car is parked to the trailhead that same morning and 4) then complete your day hike. This way, you have all day and can take your time getting to the end of the trail where your car is parked rather than trying to make it to the end by a set time to catch a bus.
Research the weather before you go. It's always a safe bet to bring a shell jacket for rain, a rain cover for your pack and plenty of food and water.