Tama Lakes

Tama Lakes

Whakapapa Village


43 Rankers Reviews

39 Face-to-Face

8 Tongariro / National Park Village

Your Nature Guide

Marios Gavalas's avatar

Marios Gavalas

Author And Researcher

Nau mai, haere mai

Nau mai, haere mai

I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.

I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!


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Top of the world......  - Tama Lakes
Mt Ruapehu in the background - Tama Lake


17 km return | 5-6 hours return

Spectacular views of Mount Ruapehu, alpine herbfields and a couple of jewels in the desert. Tama Lakes are stand-out blue in the parched landscape and the elevated viewpoint makes a great photo point.


There is one stream crossing which can be negotiated with stepping stones, shortly before the signposted junction to the lakes (around 2 hours into the walk). If it’s raining heavily, this stream may rise.


A the start of the track is signposted from Whakapapa Village at the end of Ngauruhoe Place. It is the same start point as for Taranaki Falls.


For the first 1 hour follow the well metalled track to Taranaki Falls. There are some undulations, dips into forest, but for the most part you are walking through the alpine herbfields.

At the junction with Taranaki Falls, head right at the signpost. The views of Ruapehu to the south and Tongariro and Ngauruhoe to the north get increasingly spectacular as you weave through gullies descending from the flanks of Ruapehu’s northern slopes. There is one stream crossing which can be negotiated with stepping stones, shortly before the signposted junction to the lakes.

Head left on the narrower track and after 10 minutes the Lower Tama Lake comes to view. Occupying an ancient crater and surrounded by sheer walls of volcanic rock, the deep blue water contrasts with the tussock and snow.

The climb to the upper lake is marked with poles and is steeper and rockier. There are cairns on the summit knolls. The Tama Saddle is exposed, especially in a westerly.

There is no access down to the lakes.

Return via the same track, but at the junction to Taranaki Falls, you can return via the alternative track. This passes Taranaki Falls and weaves through the montane forest alongside Wairere Stream, before passing the oxidation ponds near Ngaruhoe Road.


Tama Lakes are relatively recent in formation. Vents formed around 10,000 years ago when newer ballistic material smashed through older lava flows. The resulting craters later filled with water which had no means of escape.

The lakes remain clear, fresh and pest-free.


Feature Value Info


DOC Central North Island

Central government organisation


North IslandRuapehuTongariro / National Park Village


  • Walking
  • Free


Showing 13 reviews of 40.

Andrea Mueller's avatar

Andrea Mueller


Ranking: 9/10

All the information you need, you will get at the i-Site. The footpath is really good. With good weather you have a great scenery. Get a jacket with you up in the lakes, it is windy.

Reviewed over 4 years ago and experienced in March 2017

Nina Feulner's avatar

Nina Feulner


Ranking: 10/10

Very beautiful tramping track through a fascinating volcanic landscape. Absolutely stunning was the view from the Upper Tama lake.

Reviewed almost 5 years ago and experienced in January 2017

Florian's avatar



Ranking: 10/10

Beautiful walk through lava stone fields to the Tama Lakes. There, absolutely stunning views on the lakes and volcanoes. Make sure to go to the Upper Tama Lake!

Reviewed almost 5 years ago and experienced in January 2017

Thomas Kindler's avatar

Thomas Kindler


Ranking: 10/10

Well maintained trail, view to Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu passed the Taranaki Falls - a silent and impressive environment. The view to the lakes is fantastic.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in January 2017

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Ranking: 10/10

You really must do this hike before you leave Tongariro! Landscapes are amazing and stunning, there is not too many people compared to Tongariro Alpine Crossing and the views are completely different so I recommend to do both of them. The lake is really blue, wonderful! Nice views of mountains. Do it only with good weather.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in February 2017

Aurelie Otis's avatar

Aurelie Otis


Ranking: 8/10

We had bad weather for the walk so did not see much but it was a very easy walk, very fun for beginners. The lakes must have been beautiful - too much fog though.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in November 2016

Kenlly's avatar



Ranking: 8/10

Beautiful walk, not busy and a good walking path.

Reviewed almost 6 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Florian Mueller's avatar

Florian Mueller


Ranking: 10/10

This hiking track is just perfect! On your 5-6km return track you will see turquoise volcanic lakes, the impressive snow covered Mt Ruapehu and the great views of the Tongariro National Park - excellent alternative to the famous Alpine Crossing track.

Reviewed almost 6 years ago and experienced in January 2016

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Lili Souris's avatar

Lili Souris


Ranking: 8/10

Nice and easy walk. Beautiful lakes but very windy at the top.

Reviewed about 6 years ago and experienced in February 2016

Gessica's avatar



Ranking: 8/10

Amazing walking, you feel like a Hobbit walking in the 'middle heart', at the end the surprise, a beautiful crystal blue lake. The walk takes 5 hours return.

Reviewed about 6 years ago and experienced in October 2015

Ambrosio Loojs's avatar

Ambrosio Loojs


Ranking: 8/10

For me, this walk was better than the Tongariro Crossing because it is a lot more quiet and the view is very similar.

Reviewed over 6 years ago

David and Stephan's avatar

David and Stephan


Ranking: 10/10

Excellent alternative track to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing with views of 'Mount Doom', and the two volcanic lakes.

Reviewed about 7 years ago and experienced in December 2014

Manuela Opprecht's avatar

Manuela Opprecht

Ranking: 8/10

Nice and easy walk. The lakes are very nice and the scenery is amazing. Perfect walk for the day after the crossing.

Reviewed over 7 years ago

DOC Managed

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 😍

Cymen Crick's avatar

Cymen Crick

Rankers Owner