Day Whakapapa Village to Mangatepopo

Many trampers skip this first day of the circuit because, in the past, the Mangatepopo Track had a reputation for being uninteresting and extremely muddy. The scenery has not changed but the track has. DOC has upgraded it with additional planking and bridges, making it a considerably easier walk than it once was.

From 100m below the Whakapapa Visitor Centre, head up Ngauruhoe PI to the signposted Mangatepopo Track on your left. The tramp begins here, along a well-maintained track that wanders through tussock grass and a few stands of beech for 1.5km. At Wairere Stream it passes a signposted junction with a track that leads to Taranaki Falls, and eventually to the Tama Lakes.

Mangatepopo Track (left fork) heads northeast through tussock and many small streams. In the past the streams had eroded parts of the track, making it sloppy when it rained, but now many are bridged.

Within 3km of the start are impressive views of the volcanic cones of Ngauruhoe and Pukekaikiore to the northeast, and the scoria cone of Pukeonake straight ahead. After a few more stream crossings the track swings eastward, and you quickly climb a ridge from which you can see Mangatepopo Hut (23 bunks), 2km in the distance.

The hut, which sits at 1180m, is in a pleasant spot. On clear evenings you can enjoy good views of the sunset over Mt Taranaki, around 140km away, and by looking in the other direction you are able to study the climb to South Crater, the destination for the next day. Situated next to the hut are the raised camp sites.

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