Lake Surprise track

Lake Surprise track




4 Rankers Reviews

1 Face-to-Face

451 Walking

12 Ohakune



View of the lava flow from Lake Surprise Track.


Time: 5 hr return

The Lake Surprise Track is a less crowded alpine walk, but that doesn't mean it's not spectacular. This is volcano country!

Walk down the front of an old lava flow, through streams, (Note - unbridged and rises fast during or after rainfall) across a glacial valley to Lake Surprise. On a calm day, Mt Ruapehu is reflected like an infinity pool. A fantastic walk through spring and early summer while the snow still resides on the mountain.


Feature Value Info


North IslandRuapehuOhakune


  • Walking
  • Free



Caren's avatar


Ranking: 8/10

The track is beautiful but beware: some parts need appropriate footware (read hiking boots! we did meet people in tennis shoes but they were visibly struggling), fitness (steep!) and especially good sense of balance (going up and down gravel tracks or lahar fields, walking sticks won't hurt either). Don't forget sunscreen as almost all of the track is in full exposure.
We took the wrong track after the hut (the one signed Horopito - there are three tracks departing from the hut, the middle one is correct) but even with the half hour detour we just barely took longer than the expected 5 hours.
Would highly recommend as views are beautiful but it is not very crowded. We wanted to escape the crowds at Tongariro crossing and were satisfied.

Reviewed almost 2 years ago

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adventurefamily's avatar


New Zealand

Ranking: 9/10

We embarked on the this beautiful track with the kids in tow (2yrs old) in their Macpac possum's. The landscape and variety of mountain and rolling farm hills off to the distance make this walk an absolute stunner. The volcanic nature of the terrain and the cascading waterfalls, with the amazing colours in the rocks are something we have never seen on any other walk. The kids loved the views and we had a long lunch at the Mangatururturu Hut where the kids ran around and played in the alpine bush and run along boadwalk platforms. We didn't walk all the way into Lake Surprise, but we thoroughly enjoyed the track and even though its an in and out on the same track, the climb out was just as interesting as you have completely different views. It took about 3hrs. We will certainly be back to take in the views from Lake Surprise as we hear the reflection of Mt Ruapehu in the lake is magnificent.

Reviewed about 8 years ago and experienced in May 2012

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Mountainhigh's avatar


New Zealand

Ranking: 10/10

Stunning alpine and volcanic scenery which rates up there with the Tongariro crossing, without the crowds:we didn't see anyone all day.Climb down the front of an old lava flow,through streams, cross a glacial valley,emerge from beech forest onto the scoured out path of a lahar.From the far side of Lake Surprise Mt Ruapehu is reflected like an infinity pool ( worth doing this on a calm day for the best effect).Through spring and early summer while the mountain is still snowy,the real surprise is that this scene isn't somewhere in the Southern Alps but in the heart of the North Island, only 4 hrs drive from Auckland or Wellington.

Reviewed about 8 years ago and experienced in April 2012

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Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍

Nick Morrison's avatar

Nick Morrison

Rankers owner