People often ask me “when is the best time to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing?” My short answer is always November, just after the Lakes have thawed out. This is my favourite time on the Crossing. During the winter months the Emerald Lakes and the Blue Lake are completely frozen over and covered with snow. Sometime during November (every year is different) the lakes thaw out, but snow remains around the edges for some time. This presents the most beautiful contrast of the blue and emerald colours of the lakes with the white snow surrounding the lakes. On a nice day this spectacle is simply magnificent. The contrast of snow surrounding the Red Crater is equally magnificent. Today Michelle and Rita from Canada described the Crossing as “perfect”. They reported the Emerald Lakes are 95% thawed and the Blue Lake 90% thawed. They were so happy and could not believe their luck with the weather and also with the remaining snow adding to their experience. One thing I would add though is if you do plan to do the Crossing during November you must be prepared for winter conditions. Full waterproof gear is essential plus plenty of warm layers. This morning there was a good frost. Yesterday’s forecast was for fine weather with a 30km/h south easterly. Guess what happened? It snowed!! So be prepared and always best to ask advice from an expert local about track conditions and weather etc.
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