Conquering the Tongariro Northern Circuit in the snow, by Mick de Zeeuw, 7 years.

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Who is Mick:

Hello, my name is Mick de Zeeuw, I am 7 years old and love hiking. I live in Putaruru and am in year 3 at Te Waotu School. I also love to play soccer and netball.

The mountains I want to climb are Mt. Everest, Mt. Cook, Mt. Ngauruhoe and Mt. Ruapehu. When I am older I want to do the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award. My favourite hikes so far are the Tongariro Northern Circuit, Abel Tasman Coastal track and the Taranaki Summit Route.


I felt enthusiastic trying to do this, because last year we only climbed Red Crater from Oturere Hut. I thought it would be fun, to spend time away from home with my family and throw snowballs in my dads face. I am keen to climb Mt. Everest when I’m older so I have to start practicing.


What did you learn:

  • Slow but steady wins the race
  • Don’t give up, even when it gets hard
  • If you want it, you can do it

What did you like the most:

When I threw a snowball in dads face and he tripped over, the snowball fight on the top of red crater with an orc disguised as a guide.


Most challenging:

When I hurt my foot, but I knew I had to keep walking



  • Don’t eat yellow snow
  • If you can, walk where other people walked so you don’t sink hip deep in the snow
  • Only go when the weather conditions are good and bring a locator beacon
  • Kids can do more than old people think
  • Always bring lots of snacks! My favourite are snack packs with nuts, raisins, cranberry, jellybeans and when I’m lucky mum makes freeze balls.
  • Pick up rubbish if you see it
  • Don’t leave your rubbish at the hut but take it home


In my bag I always take:

My sleeping bag + liner, my striped long johns to sleep in, shorts, shirt, fleece jumper, first aid kit, down jacket, rain gear, spare socks, crocs, a book to read at the hut/campsite and playing cards, an emergency blanket, my snacks for the whole trip, water, my compass and a whistle.

I really loved doing the Northern Circuit in winter, but I thought it was more challenging than when I was climbing to the Taranaki Summit in January. Next on my bucket list are Mt. Ruapehu Summit, the Kepler Track, Stewart Island and the North/South Track in the Kaimais.




I am Tim and I am 5 years old. I am in year 1 at Te Waotu School and I did the Tongariro Northern Circuit in the snow!


Biggest challenge:

When it started snowing from Waihohonu to Whakapapa, lucky I had my raingear on!


Coolest thing:

Building a snowman with mum at Oturere Hut and walking through the deep snow



When mum got stuck in the deep snow and I threw a snowball in her face.


Best part:

Jumping down Red Crater in the deep snow and playing Chess in the hut


  • Stay in other people’s footprints
  • I might be small, but I can do a lot
  • I need more snacks than an adult, I make lots of little steps



Slow but steady wins the race


In my bag I always have snacks, water, spare clothes, my jacket, my raingear, my pj’s, spare socks, my crocs, my sleeping bag and liner (but sometimes mum or dad will carry it for me if we have a long day)  a book to read, emergency blanket, my compass and my whistle.


De Zeeuw Family:

Dad Axel, Mum Lizzy, Mick (7yr old) and Tim (5yr old).

Doing the Tongariro Northern Circuit in the snow.


We’ve been taking the boys on overnight/multi night trips since January last year (2021). Before that we took them out on daytrips in the weekend, first in the front/backpack and later they had to walk themselves. We are lucky that we live rurally and close to the Waikato River Trails, so the boys have been doing 5km walks, sometimes on a daily base, either in the pack, on their (balance) bike or walking/running.

Last year spring we walked from Desert Rd Carpark to Oturere Hut and climbed Red Crater from the scree side as a day trip from Oturere Hut. There was snow and almost nobody on the Crossing, but because we knew there was no firewood at Mangatepopo Hut, we’ve decided to stay two nights in Oturere Hut and walk out to Desert Rd the next day.

Since then, the boys wanted to complete the whole circuit, Mick wanted to tick it off his list before he turned 8.  I’ve been wanting to this since we arrived in NZ 7 years ago, but I couldn’t have dreamed doing this with both my boys at this stage in their life.

Although we’ve been planning it for months, the forecast looked good on those days that we had a week off, so that was our gap to go.


September 2022


Tongariro Northern Circuit, Tongariro National Park


I wouldn’t say this trip pushed the boys out of their comfort zone, but it did show them that they are more resilience than they think. They are both very aware of what was going to happen and did some tricky tracks already. They know that there is always the option that you must turn around and can’t continue what you’ve started, but you always must try.  Mick pushed himself on the last day when he hurt his foot. Although there were some tears, he pushed himself passed that and kept walking. He’s a bit older and thinks more about what effect his actions have, where Tim is always just carefree and whistles even after a 16km morning.

Tips for parents:


  • Bring plenty of snacks. Our boys have a bag with nuts, lollies and dried fruit in their pocket/bag and they can grab something whenever they want. In the beginning we would walk for a while, and they had to wait till we sat down to eat but know they just can eat something as we go. If that means they’ll eat a jellybean at 8:05AM, 5 minutes after you started, so be it. If they’re happy, you have a fun trip!
  • Plenty of layers. Our children are never cold, but they wore a lot of layers. It’s always easier to take a layer off than to have a cold, grumpy child.
  • Although it was sunny, the boys both wore their rain pants and jacket, with gaiters, a fleece jumper, long johns and shorts. Their down jacket was too hot, and the raingear protected them from the cold, and they didn’t get wet after falling/playing in the snow!
  • Try to find out if the hut has firewood! After being in the snow all day, it’s nice that socks/shoes/clothes can dry so they don’t have to put their wet gear back on the following morning.
  • Make sure they know where they sign up for. It’s a challenging track, even for some adults, although my children show me every time that they are more versatile than we think.
  • Know their limits! Be aware that your children can do a day of the track in a certain amount of time and don’t make it into 10hour days. That way they can enjoy some downtime at the next hut and you’re not stressing about getting to the hut before dark. Stressed parents and grumpy children are not a good combination. Our longest day was just under 5 ½ hour from Waihohonu to Whakapapa and it could’ve been faster if Mick didn’t hurt himself. On the other hand, don’t think they can’t do it. Most times, our children surprise us in what they can do, but better try to find out on an easier track and not in the snow.
  • Don’t let other people tell you, your children can’t do it. Especially those children that have been out and about for years can do more than the average adult.
  • Always bring enough supplies, so if you’re stuck an extra day, you have enough food to keep your children and yourself warm and fed. Low weight backpacks will come again once they’re old enough to take half of your gear J
  • Most of all, enjoy! We are lucky to have this amazing scenery on our doorstep and to share this with our children is definitely a privilege!


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