Tongariro National Park
Enjoy outdoor adventures and superlative scenery when you explore Tongariro National Park. Go hiking, mountain biking, skiing and whitewater rafting in a wilderness that encompasses waterfalls, lakes, rivers and three active volcanoes.
The three volcanoes in Tongariro National Park were gifted to the country in 1887 by Te Heuheu, Chief of the Ngati Tuwharetoa Maori tribe. New Zealand’s oldest national park is also a dual World Heritage area for its importance to Maori culture and the magnificent volcanic features.
There are many hiking and mountain bike trails throughout the park, from gentle outings to more challenging routes. Take one of the volcanic walks on Mount Ruapehu, which was used as a filming location for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Trek through the countryside and stay overnight in a serviced backcountry hut or in a village lodge. A popular route is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This 1-day hike encompasses barren mountains with volcanic craters, lava flows and emerald-green lakes.
Take part in some activities on the water. Kayak along the Whakapapa River through Tongariro Forest. There is also a 3-day canoe trip along the waterway. Go whitewater rafting in the Whanganui River. When the snow comes in the winter, head for the slopes of the Whakapapa Ski Area on Mount Ruapehu. Here you can ski, snowboard and go tobogganing.
Away from the outstanding scenery, Tongariro National Park also has some cultural sites that are well worth exploring. Stop by the 1923 glacier hut, which today houses a skiing museum. See Kaikawaka Villa, a bushman's hut from the 1930s and visit the Tongariro Chateau, a Georgian mansion.
Tongariro National Park is in the central part of North Island, about a 4- to 5-hour drive from Auckland or Wellington. It is also accessible by railway from both these places. Trains stop at the National Park Village which borders the expansive wilderness. It is open throughout the year and there is no entry fee.