Tackling the Tongariro At the heart of the North Island's central volcanic plateau, Tongariro National Park is a wonderland of outdoor adventure. This magnificent park has Dual World Heritage status, recognising both its exceptional scenery and cultural value. During summer, walkers and hikers traverse the park’s rugged landscape, while icy rivers provide challenges for whitewater rafting and canoeing. Mount Ruapehu, the North Island's highest peak, doubled as 'Mount Doom' during Lord of the Rings filming. 

In winter, the mountain is a magnet for skiers and snow boarders who come to test their skills on the wide, open runs and half pipes at the only commercial skifields in the North Island. The 550 hectare Whakapapa skifield is New Zealand's largest. You’ll find accommodation at Whakapapa village, nestled at the foot of Mount Ruapehu. Turoa is New Zealand's second largest skifield and the closest to Ohakune, where visitors dance to bands in nightclubs and bars until the small hours.

Tonagriro National Park is dominated by the towering cones of three active volcanoes – Ruapehu (2797m), Ngauruhoe (2291m) and Tongariro (1968m). Mt Ngauruhoe (2290m) used to erupt about every nine years, but it has been quiet since 1975. Mt Tongariro's (1968m) Red Crater spewed ash in 1926, but it was Mt Ruapehu (2797m) that recently took centre stage with a series of eruptions in 1995/96. Scenic flights offer a bird’s-eye view of the mountains and their colourful crater lakes, or you can strike out on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and enjoy the stunning scenery on foot. The Information Centre at Whakapapa village has a wealth of information about the park including current weather, track and ski conditions.

A 30 minute drive from Tongariro National Park, Owhango is the place to head for Lord of The Rings tours. You can visit Mordor, Gollum’s pool, Ithilien Camp, Meads Wall, Emyn Muil, and Mount Doom, and see the spot where Sauron lost the ring – or simply take in the breathtaking views of waterfalls, lakes and mountains. The tiny township of Tokaanu has warming thermal pools and thermal activity, while Turangi is a paradise for anglers. One of Central & Eastern North Island Route Plannerthe world’s Encounter NZ Outdoor Activities Directorybest trout rivers – the Tongariro River – runs right through town.

Tongariro was the fourth national park in the world and the first to be gifted by a country's indigenous people. As the paramount chief of the Tuwharetoa people, Te Heuheu Tukino IV became increasingly concerned that colonisation would compromise the mana (prestige) of the sacred peaks. He gifted 2630 hectares to the crown in 1887. Today, the park sprawls over 79,598 hectares.

Order your free Jasons Central & Eastern North Island RoutePlanner 
Order your free Jasons Encounter Activities Directory