Tread a path through the restless, contorted, moonscape terrain of New Zealand’s most spectacular volcanic parkland.
Tongariro National Park comprises three contrasting mountains, Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu. Tongariro is a shattered remnant of an ancient volcano with red, blue and emerald crater lakes. Ngauruhoe is a symmetrical cone, which occasionally releases wisps of steam. Ruapehu is a huge multi-peaked mountain, which sometimes expels clouds of ash, and is one of the more active volcanoes in the world.
Tongariro was the first national park to be established in New Zealand, and only the fourth in the world. It has World Heritage Area status because of its outstanding natural topography and cultural associations. To North Islanders, Ruapehu is simply known as ‘The Mountain’, and skiers and snowboarders flock here from Auckland and Wellington each winter, to the largest ski fields in the country. In summer a new influx of outdoor enthusiasts arrives for sightseeing, tramping, rock climbing, horse trekking and many other activities.
Whakapapa visitor centre on Mt Ruapehu is an ideal source of information on weather forecasts and track conditions. From here you can set out on the Tongariro Northern Circuit Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. This incorporates dramatic landscapes such as lava flows, glacial valleys, hot springs and crater lakes. It also includes the famous Tongariro Crossing track from the ‘Middle Earth’ landscape of the Mangatepopo Valley to the steaming thermal pools of Ketetahi Springs. Other Whakapapa walks, of 1 to 4 hours’ duration are; the Silica Rapids, Tama Lakes, Taranaki Falls and the Nature Walk. Around every corner are fascinating shapes sculpted by lava and ash and forged by fiery volcanoes. This ever-changing land of many different moods, will both surprise you and stretch your imagination.
Tongariro, our first national park, is undoubtedly our most spectacular volcanic region. A place of extremes from barren desert to lush forest, black lava flows to sparkling streams. It’s one of the best wild places in New Zealand.