Here is a suggestion for a winter tramp up into the mountains of Tongariro National Park. I completed it over one of the early weeks of August.
The trip starts at Mangatepopo and heads up to South Crater, then turns toward the saddle in the southeast corner between Ngauruhoe and the ridge up to Red Crater behind the seasonal lake. From there you have a few options.
The first is a nice, white ascent of Mount Ngauruhoe, continuing on to finish your day dropping into the Oturere Valley and making your way to the Oturere Hut for the night.
The second option is to press onto Waihohonu, meeting up with the old track and then following either the old track or the current track over to the hut.
The third option (for the daring tramper) is to make your way over to the Upper Tama and camp the night either in the large open area at the top or desend down to the lake and then filter it for drinking water. This saves trips up and down. However if you should choose to camp next to the lake it will be a slog to get back out. Then follow the ridge around to the track and return to Whakapapa via the track. Or to return to Mangatepopo carpark behind Pukekaikiore, then simply follow the track back.
Returning from either Oturere or Waihohonu.
There are 2 options:
- Take the track back -- only in BAD weather
- Go to the ridge behind Waihohonu, then climb Mount Tama or drop down to Waihohonu Springs and go over to the Upper Tama and follow around till you meet up with the track. Follow this back to Whakapapa or to return to Mangatepopo Road behind Pukekaikiore, then simply follow the track back. Because this route is off track I would recommend trampers carry the following: ice axe, crampons, walking pole, avalanche transciever.