Tongariro National Park, New Zealand
New Zealand’s first and most popular National Park is a dramatic and epic landscape, formed of huge mountains, emerald lakes and volcanoes, both active and dormant. There are three active volcanic mountains; Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, and Tongariro which gives the park its name. These dominate the landscape, rising from the dry plains first as dark mountains before reaching to snowy peaks. The best way to see all three is to tackle the 'Tongariro Alpine Crossing', a much loved one-day trek that traverses the inspiring terrain along the slopes of all three mountains. Blistering craters, ancient lava flows and thermal lakes all combine to make the walk an unforgettable experience. There is also excellent skiing and boarding at Mount Ruapehu's ski areas, Whakapapa and Turoa. White water rafting on The Tongariro River is another adrenaline fuelling activity, but the beauty of the park also ensures that the park can be enjoyed at any pace, by anyone. There are a number of Maori religious sites within the park as well, which offer a fantastic insight into why they believed the mountain tops to be sacred.
Where is it?
Tongariro National Park is located in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island, in the Ruapehu Region.
What is it?
Tongariro is New Zealand’s oldest National Park, and also home to the largest mountain on New Zealand’s North Island, Mt Ruapehu. At 2797 metres, the volcano is the perfect site for hiking and skiing, and combined with the other volcanoes and mountains make the park a truly stunning sight.
Best time to visit?
Visit from December to April, as this is the best time for both the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and to see the impressive Crater Lake at the top of Raupehu.
The Whakapapa Visitor Centre, at the heart of the Whakapapa village, is a great centre for those interested in the science of the park. The centre boasts two excellent digital displays, which reveal how the remarkable volcanic landscape was formed at the end of the last Ice Age.