Tongariro National Park

UNESCO Dual World Heritage

Established in 1887, the Tongariro National Park was the first national park created in New Zealand and the fourth in the world. The park’s UNESCO dual World Heritage area recognizes the important Maori cultural and spiritual associations, which include being the first national park in the world to be gifted by a country’s indigenous people. There are outstanding volcanic features including active volcanoes, alpine herb fields, forests, tranquil lakes, desert-like plateau and Lord of the Rings film locations!

The most famous walks in the park are the Tongariro Alpine Crossing that is considered one of the best day hikes in the world, and the 2-3 day Tongariro Northern Circuit, one of the nine NZ Great Walks. There are a wide range of other walking and trekking opportunities, from an easy 20 minutes or up to 6 hours for views of the volcanoes and waterfalls. There is a network of eight serviced back-country huts with campsites. Riverstone Backpackers can arrange your shuttle bus and when necessary book your guided Crossing in winter conditions.

Whakapapa Village

Walking, Ski Fields & Chateau Tongariro Riverstone Recommendation

Tongariro National Park Map

Tongariro National Park

At 1140 m above sea level Whakapapa Village is New Zealand’s highest permanent settlement and the main entrance to the Tongariro National Park. The DOC  Visitor Centre has excellent information on the area’s geology and geography, and plenty of maps for the Park.

There is also a pub, a café and the Hotel Chateau Tongariro – an early century Gregorian style mansion acquired in the 1920’s by the government for tourism; and where you can have a drink or dine while looking out their large window as if Mt Ngauruhoe is sitting right in front of you. Further up the mountain is the Whakapapa Ski & Snowboarding Fields where the chairlifts operate in summer, and which could be included as part of a round the mountain trip. 

Toward Tongariro National Park (SH47)

Lake Rotopounamu & Te Porere Redoubt Riverstone Recommendation

From Turangi to Whakapapa (SH47) there are some interesting short walks and features which could either be included as part of a longer trip further into the Tongariro National Park, or as short trips on their own – which is often useful if the weather in the park is poor. Lake Rotopounamu is very sheltered and surrounded by pristine native forest. The roadside lookout on the way up the Ponanga Saddle offers great views to the north toward Lake Taupo, as does the lookout at Otukou Marae over Lake Rotoaira toward Mt Tongariro as you descend the south side of the saddle.

Around the Mountains (Via National Park)

Ohakune Walks, Cycling Trail & Turoa Ski Fields

Ohakune has a number of interesting walking and mountain biking options, in particular the Old Coach Road Trail. The town itself has some good cafes and is a minor ski resort for the nearby Turoa Ski Field which features the largest vertical drop in NZ. A trip through National Park village, Ohakune and Waiouru could form part of a round the mountain trip.

Learn more…

Explore the Tongariro...


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