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Tongariro National Park, New Zealand

Created in 1887, Tongariro National Park was New Zealand's first National Park, and the fourth National Park to be created in the world. Tongariro National Park has now gained international significance, by being awarded Dual World Heritage site status.

Located in the central North Island of New Zealand, approximately midway between Auckland and Wellington, on the southern side of Lake Taupo; the nearest towns of significance are Turangi, National Park and Ohakune.

The Tongariro Region is one that has great significance to Maori people. The park was originally gifted to New Zealand by Maori Chief Te Heuheu Tukino IV. According to one legend the high priest Ngatoroirangi was frozen in a snowstorm while exploring Tongariro and called to Hawaiki, the traditional Polynesian homeland of the Maori, for fire. His prayer was answered, via the channel we now call the Pacific Rim of Fire, and the mountain erupted.

Tongariro National Park is over 18 kms in length, and is dominated by the three volcanoes of Mount Ruapehu (2797m), Mount Ngauruhoe (2291m) and Mount Tongariro (1968m). The region has been formed by many volcanic eruptions over the last 300,000 years; as well as glaciers from the last ice age. This has created surreal colours, landscapes and textures.

The lower slopes of the mountains are covered in forest; and are home to many native birds, as well as short and long tailed bats, New Zealand's only native mammals. In the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Mount Doom was Mount Ruapehu.

Today the region is popular with both hikers, and in winter skiers. There is a warning system that monitors the mountains, to provide an early notification in case of eruptions.

Hiking in Tongariro National Park

There are many Tongariro Walks that you can do. Tongariro National Parks most popular hiking trip is the day hike on the "Tongariro Alpine Crossing". This crosses past thermal lakes, steaming craters and old lava flows past the peaks of Tongariro and Ngauruhoe, a truly amazing experience. Another great one day walk is the Ruapehu Crater Lake Walk.

If you have the time, the 3 to 4 day trek around the "Tongariro Northern Circuit" is well worth doing, with its even more spectacular with its weird boiling mud pools, fumaroles and craters. These hikes are part of the New Zealand "Great Walks" network.

1 Day Ruapehu Crater Lake Walk
1 Day Ruapehu Crater Lake Walk
North Island
Mt Ruapehu is the largest of the three volcanoes in Tongariro National Park and its last eruption was in 2007. Ruapehu's crater holds about 10 ...
1 Day Sunrise Tongariro Alpine Crossing
1 Day Sunrise Tongariro Alpine Crossing
North Island
From National Park or Whakapapa Village: Pre-dawn departures on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in Tongariro National Park has you on the top of Red...
1 Day Tongariro Alpine Crossing
1 Day Tongariro Alpine Crossing
North Island
This 19km trek in Tongariro National Park is New Zealand's best day one day walk. The track leads up to the saddle between Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt ...
3 Day Tongariro Northern Circuit
3 Day Tongariro Northern Circuit
North Island
The Tongariro Northern Circuit in Tongariro National Park is a 3 day hike starting on Mt Ruapehu and encircles Mt Ngauruhoe, and has been designated ...
4 Day Tongariro Hiking Tour Lodge Based
4 Day Tongariro Hiking Tour Lodge Based
North Island
From Rotorua (or Taupo): The Tongariro Hiking Tour, New Zealand is a 4-day / 3-night all-inclusive walking vacation package, featuring some of New...
Whanganui River Canoeing Adventure
Whanganui River Canoeing Adventure
North Island
The Whanganui National Park has rugged terrain covered in lush native forest with the Whanganui River flowing through it. The river from Taumar...