Tongariro Walks

Whakapapa Village Trails

A Variety of Scenic Volcanic alpine walks
Walk – 5 minutes to 6 hours
Driving – 45 minutes
Tongariro Walks Whakapapa Map

Whakapapa Village Trails

There are 18 different Tongariro walks that begin from Whakapapa Village, the DOC Tongariro National Park Visitors Center or nearby. The terrain isn’t as steep but is similar to what you would experience on parts of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

The popular walk to Taranaki Falls (2hrs) is recommended as is the more challenging Tama Lakes (5–6hrs return). On a fine day in the summer you could continue up the mountain to the Whakapapa Ski Fields (SH 48) for a scenic ride on the chairlift. The Chateau Tongariro has stunning lounge views of Mt Ngaruruhoe, and is a good spot for a meal or a drink.

Whakapapa Village can also be a starting point for longer treks into the Tongariro National Park, including walks such as the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Tongariro Northern Circuit and the Tongariro Traverse and Mt Ruapehu.

Taranaki Falls Riverstone Recommendation

2 hours return
Distance: 6 km loop
Begin: 100 metres below Whakapapa Visitor Centre at Ngauruhoe Place.

The upper and lower tracks form a loop with the waterfall at the half-way point, where there are spectacular views of the Wairere Stream and gorge.The falls spill over the edge of a large lava flow, which erupted from Mt Ruapehu 15,000 years ago.


Tama Lakes Riverstone Recommendation

5 hours 30 minutes return
Distance: 17 km return
Begin: 100 metres below Whakapapa Visitor Centre at Ngauruhoe Place – an extension of the Taranaki Falls Walk.

The Tama Lakes fill the craters below the Tama Saddle between Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngauruhoe. From the Taranaki Falls walk, the track crosses undulating tussock terrain and alpine herb fields. The track then branches to the left, while the main track continues on to Waihohonu Hut and the Tongariro Traverse. There is a view of the lower lake (1240m), then the track climbs steeply to a viewpoint of the upper lake (1440m).

  • The descent to the lakes is via steep gullies, there are no formed tracks
  • Tama Saddle is a funnel for cold westerly winds, it is an alpine environment and windproof clothing is recommended

Shorter Walks

Mounds Walk Riverstone Recommendation

Time: 20 minutes return
Begins: 5 km below Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre on SH 48

Follow the track up a short series of steps, to the top of a mounds where there are expansive views of the volcanoes and surrounding landscape. There is an interpretive walk with information panels that explains the geology and history of the Mounds, which it is believed were formed by avalanche debris during one of Mt Ruapehu’s more active periods. 

Tawhai Falls

Time: 20 minutes return
Begins: 4 km below Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre on SH 48

Follow the track down the steps through mountain toatoa, cabbage trees and beech forest to where the scenic Tawhai Falls spill over the edge of an ancient lava flow.

Ridge Track

Time: 30 minutes return
Distance: 1.2 km return
Begins: 150 metres above Whakapapa Visitor Centre, beside the public shelter

After a short climb through the beech forest, the track passes through alpine shrub-lands with wide and spectacular views of Mt Ruapehu, Mt Ngauruhoe and the surrounding landscape. Return via the same track.

Whakapapanui Walk

Time: 2 hours return
Distance: 6 km return via same track or via the SH 48 road
Begins: 250 metres above Whakapapa Visitor Centre. Take care not to confuse the Whakapapanui and Whakapapaiti track signs

About 10-15mins along the track, the trail branches to the right and heads down stream following  the Whakapapanui Stream through the regenerating beach forest.

Silica Rapids

Time: 2 hours 30 minutes return
Distance: 7 km return via Bruce Road (2.5km above starting point)
Begins: 250 metres above Whakapapa Visitor Centre.

The trail is through mountain beach forest along a the stream to the blinding-white terraces of Silica Rapids.The walk is notable for the variety of geography and fauna within a short distance. There are also spectacular views of Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngauruhoe.

Learn more…

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