Saddle Cone

Accessibility: DIFFICULT
Saddle Cone crater wall, J.Thomson / GNS Science
This small volcanic crater erupted lots of lava that is spread out over a wide area on the slopes below.
Saddle Cone (centre left), Ruapehu and Pinnacles behind. j.Thomson / GNS
Saddle Cone erupted about 10 000 years ago, most likely towards the end of a particularly active phase of volcanism in the Tongariro area that lasted about 400 years. During this phase, several craters in the Tama Lakes area were active, with very explosive eruptions. Lava flows from Saddle Cone extend up to 2.5 kilometres northwards, in the direction of Tama Lakes. Erosion of these lava flows has created a desert 'moonscape' of twisted shapes with flat areas of ash and eroded lava in between the rock outcrops.
Lava from Saddle Cone, J.Thomson / GNS Science
The cone is a very atmospheric place to visit, with an almost circular crater, higher to the eastern side. It is a great viewpoint from which to survey the lava flows, some glacial moraines (to the east) and the cone of Ngauruhoe in the distance. Botanists will be interested in the alpine vegetation that has survived repeated ash falls from Ruapehu along with the extreme weather conditions.

There is no track to Saddle Cone. From near Tama Lakes head south across old lava flows to the cone.

This is an isolated and featureless landscape that requires good navigation in an alpine environment where conditions can change rapidly. For experienced trampers. The crater is at 1550m altitude.

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Accessibility: DIFFICULT

This small isolated crater on the northern slopes of Ruapehu, is away from the established walking tracks of the Tongariro National Park. The terrain is rugged with some steep slopes to navigate at the edges of the lava flows

Volcanic Landform
Geological Age
Saddle Cone erupted about 10 000 years ago, at the start of the Holocene
Zealandia Evolution Sequence
Pākihi Supergoup: 5 million years ago – present
Volcanic Hazards in New Zealand video: