As one of the most raw and contrasting landscapes in New Zealand and with three active volcanoes towering above a rugged wonderland of golden tussocks, rushing rivers and shimmering lakes, there are countless reasons to visit Tongariro National Park.
Here are five that are sure to entice you to this fabulously unique UNESCO Site.
See three active volcanoes up close
Yes, you read it right, in Tongariro National Park you can set-foot on three active volcanoes! Known in Maori as Te Kahui Tupua (The Sacred Peaks), one of the best ways to experience Mount Tongaririo, Mount Ngauruhoe and the tallest mountain in the North Island, Mount Ruaphehu, is to take a guided hike, following in the footsteps of ancient Maori and listening to local legends, with a kiwi guide. Or for something truely special, hop in a helicopter for a bird’s-eye view of the spectacular summits.
This is real 'Middle Earth'
The stark environment of Tongariro, New Zealand made the perfect setting for the most sinister of Lord of the Rings and Hobbit scenes. Mount Ngaruhoe’s almost perfect cone-shape played the part of Mount Doom, and Mordor, stronghold of Sauron, was brought to life amidst the barren plains and jagged peaks of Ruapehu. Enjoy a leisurely chairlift ride up Mount Ruapehu for awe-inspiring views over the Black Land of Mordor, and as part of the iconic Tongariro Crossing you have the option to hike to the summit of Mount Doom. This is Middle Earth in real life!
Spectacular Day Walks
With three volcanoes, lush bush, dynamic wildlife, plus ancient lava flows and emerald crater lakes, Tongariro National Park is an ever-changing hiking terrain. As one of the best day walks in the world, the Tongariro Crossing takes you on an unforgettable 6-8 hour journey across the contrasting scenery of the central plateau, including all three volcanoes. For a shorter (yet equally outstanding) walk, the Taranaki Falls loop track weaves through ancient Beech, over alpine shrub-land and along a charming river gorge to a magnificent 20m waterfall, tumbling over an age-old lava flow.
The Grand Chateau Tongariro
Nestled at the base of towering Mount Ruapehu, in the heart of Tongariro National Park, the elegant, 1920s Chateau Tongariro brings French-style elegance to this unrefined corner of New Zealand. After a day of exploring, the Chateau provides a plush retreat where you can refuel at the world-class restaurant or simply relax amongst panoramic vistas of the dramatic surroundings.
Dual World Heritage status – the only one in New Zealand
As New Zealand’s oldest National Park, Tongaririo is unique in a very special way. The land was gifted by local Maori to the government in 1887, on the condition that a protected area for all to enjoy was established. This is the fist example of an indigenous people gifting land to a colonial government anywhere in the world, and this is what earned Tongariro its dual 'World Heritage Area' status - signficant for both natural and cultural values. The only dual site in New Zealand and one of only 35 around the globe! The combination of natural and cultral heritage make Tongariro a one of a kind spot, the park now encompasses a sweeping 80,000 hectare area, a gift to us all. Hike or explore this contrasting paradise, where eerie rocky outcrops give birth to flourishing green forests, snow-capped pointy pinnacles meet glassy emerald lakes and icy rivers cascade around bubbling hot pools.
Have we given you enough reasons to visit Tongariro National Park? If you are after a one-of-a-kind New Zealand experience, we really do put it at the top of the list. On MoaTrek’s 23-Day Kakapo Tour you have plenty of time to explore the volcanic plateau, including a scenic day walk and a night at the luxurious Chateau Tongariro. Sound like just what you're looking for your your big trip to New Zealand? Get in touch or get a free brochure now!