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Nz north Lake Rotoaira Ruapehu Destination Lake Taupo
Nz north Blue Lakes Tongariro National Park Ruapehu Destination Lake Taupo
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Nz north Lake Rotoaira Ruapehu Destination Lake Taupo
Nz north Blue Lakes Tongariro National Park Ruapehu Destination Lake Taupo
Discover a volcanic wonderland

Tongariro National Park

Home to three active volcanic mountains, and iconic and majestic landscapes, Tongariro National Park is the oldest national park in New Zealand. Explore natural hot springs, mineral lakes, alpine meadows and some of the best hikes in the world. It is the perfect destination for families, couples and explorers seeking adventure and an escape into nature.

Where should you visit Tongariro National Park?

Take a once-in-a-lifetime walk along the crater lake
© TravelEssence
Hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Enjoy beautiful views on your hike

Welcome to Tongariro

The Tongariro National Park on the North Island, which measures 7.600 square kilometres, includes three active volcanoes: Mount Tongariro (1.968 metres), Mount Ngauruhoe (2.291 metres) and Mount Ruapehu (the highest at 2.797 metres).

Of those three, Mount Ngauruhoe is the most active. The most recent eruption occurred in February 1975. Spectacular clouds of smoke and ash are still regularly emitted today. The top of Mount Ruapehu is permanently covered with snow and it has two craters; one of them is a crater lake and there are a few small glaciers.

A woman dressed in black looking over a turquoise blue crater lake
Experience a striking landscape like no other
Blanket of snow in the Tongariro National Park
Hike to snow-capped mountain peaks and crater lakes
© Barton Matthews

Protected status

The mountain area is sacred to the Maori and the scene of several ancient legends. In 1887, the Maori chief Tukino Te Heuheu IV donated the mountain area to the government of New Zealand on the condition that it would be given protected status.

Discover a World Heritage area

It became the country's first national park, the second largest national park in the world after Yellowstone in the USA, and also the first park to be included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In fact, it is a dual World Heritage area recognising the park’s Maori cultural and volcanic features.

Maori man and a woman with their faces touching each other
Immerse yourself in Maori tradition and culture
© TravelEssence
Two women resting from a hike with a mountain peak in the distance
Take your time to absorb the spiritual nature of the park
© TravelEssence

Explore a wilderness wonderland

The landscape around the volcanoes consists of barren, desolate plains. In the west, where more rain falls, the soil is fertile and there are extensive forests with streams and rivers. You can spot many different bird species, including the rare blue shelduck.

On the drier east side, the land looks desert-like with lots of pebbles and vegetation of hardy alpine plants. The park's headquarters are located near the luxury hotel Chateau Tongariro. This is where you will get all the necessary information about the three volcanoes, climbing and hiking trips and information about spending the night in huts along the way.

A woman standing on a rock overlooking a turquoise alpine lake
Enjoy some of the most stunning views in New Zealand
© Camilla Rutherford
A hiking path n dry brown grassland and mountainous terrain
Go on a day hike to experience the diverse flora and fauna

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Conquer the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, known as one of the best day hikes in the world. Journey to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, hiking between Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe. On a clear day, you might even be able to see Mount Taranaki on the far west coast of the North Island.

The Tongariro Crossing is a moderate-level hike and given its length and difficult terrain you need to have a good level of fitness to do it.

A group of hikes walking on a mountain path surrounded by brown vegetation
Join a guided hiking group to learn more about the national park
© Paul Abbitt
A woman in a yellow sweater overlooking a crater
Take in the geological majesty of a volcanic area
© Graeme Murray

Hike a beautiful and varied landscape

The Tongariro Crossing is a 19-kilometre route from Mangatepopo to Ketetahi through a beautiful and varied landscape. Due to the unpredictability of this volcanic area, you must report if you intend to hike or climb the higher slopes. Marvel at blue lakes, crater valleys and volcanic landscapes on this eight-hour hike.

Early morning view of a volcanic mountain peak
Marvel at crater valleys on a sunrise hike
Blue and white sign post in a field
Conquer the Tongariro Alpine Crossing - known as the best hike in the world.

"I absolutely love the area around Tongariro Nationalpark for all its natural beauty and hiking possibilities. If your fitness level allows, do not miss out on hiking Tongariro crossing - it's absolutely breathtaking!"

Nicole, travel specialist

Mount Tongariro

The Tongariro National Park is home to three mountains, Ruapehu, the largest mountain on the North Island, Ngauruhoe the youngest volcano, and Tongariro whose landscape has developed over the last 300,000 years.

The world-famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a hike over Mt Tongariro, taking you from herb fields to forests and tranquil lakes. Track information, accommodation, shuttles, and supplies are all available in National Park Village.

Hiking along the Tongariro River Trail | New Zealand active holiday
Spend a quiet afternoon fly fishing at the Tongariro river
River with flowing water surrounded by green trees and mountain
Listen to a calming sound track of birds and water

Enjoy a variety of hiking trails

While the Tongariro Crossing is a popular hike and one that most people want to conquer, there are a variety of other hiking trails available which range from a few minutes to a few hours. The Skyline, Crater Lake and Meads Wall hiking trails are fantastic alternatives and offer stunning views of the landscape.

Watch the sunset sky change to golden hues

Mount Ruapehu

Mt Ruapehu has two of the largest and most developed ski fields in New Zealand, Whakapapa and Turoa, with Whakapapa being the larger. Its sacred Crater Lake is one of only three in the world that is surrounded by ice and snow.

In Whakapapa chairlift rides operate throughout most of the year. You will get to see magnificent views over North Island making it a worthwhile experience. Soak up the beauty of the landscape by exploring the many volcanic tracks in the area on your own or with experienced local alpine guides.

White snow-capped mountain peaks
Go skiing on the majestic slopes of Mt Ruapehu
© Penny Egleton
Blue crater lake surrounded by white snow peak mountains
Witness the spectacular sacred crater lake

Mount Ngauruhoe

Mt Ngauruhoe has been active for at least 2.500 years and has produced more than 70 eruptive episodes since 1839 making it New Zealand's youngest and most active volcano.

One of the inspiring things about travelling through New Zealand is the many stories and Maori legends that you learn along your journey. In the story behind Mount Ngauruhoe, the high priest, Ngatoroirangi was caught in a blizzard while climbing Mount Ngauruhoe. He asked his sisters to send him fire to save him from freezing. The flames they sent rose first at White Island, then Rotorua and Taupo before finally bursting at Ngatoroirangi's feet. As the legend goes Ngatoroirangi brought volcanic activity to Aotearoa/ New Zealand as a blessing.

Red sunset glow over a volcanic mountain top
Observe an unusual red sunset glow over Ngauruhoe
Biking in the forest along the Tongariro River Trail | New Zealand holiday
Go on an exhilarating bike ride through the forest

Things to do

In the summer months, hiking and climbing are popular sports. In winter, the slopes of Mount Ruapehu make up the North Island's main ski area with chair and ski lifts and several runs. It is a true paradise for skiers and snowboarders.

Tongariro National Park has everything from extreme and adventure sports, to beautiful scenery, gentle walks and some of New Zealand's most interesting history.

The variety of activities include:

  • Walking and hiking
  • Cycling and mountain biking
  • Skiing and snowboarding
  • Kayaking, cruising, white water rafting and fly fishing
Man with a yellow sweater and orange back-pack staring at a green coloured crater lake
See unique crater lakes and glaciers on your hike
Enjoy the views on the Tongariro River Trail | New Zealand holiday
Have fun with friends by exploring Tongariro on bikes

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North Island

New Zealand's North Island offers everything from bustling cities, rich history, diverse culture, and island retreats, to culinary wonders that make it the holiday experience of a lifetime.

From the far north travel through stunning coastlines and beaches, vast farmlands and geothermal wonders. Along the way discover Maori culture and immerse yourself in traditions that will leave you changed forever.

Coastline of plants, sand and blue water
Journey through sublime coasts and beaches
A group of Maori men in a traditional canoe rowing in the ocean
Appreciate the rich history of the Maori on North Island
© TravelEssence

The best places to visit in the North Island

Whether you prefer mountains or beaches, you'll find beautiful places to fall in love with on the North Island.

Three ladies standing in front of a small Hobbit house
Travel to middle earth and experience a land of fantasy
A river with green trees and fields and small Hobbit houses
Explore Hobbiton, the beautiful town built for Lord of the Rings
© TravelEssence


Rotorua has been welcoming people from all over the globe for over 200 years. Situated in active volcano regions, it is overflowing with Maori culture, geothermal activities, and breathtaking scenery. It is the perfect base to explore the surrounding area and Tongariro National Park.

One thing that will stick with you when in Rotorua is the scent of sulphur floating through the air due to the geothermal activity. This area is like nowhere else in the world with natural hot springs, bubbling mud pools, geysers and exclusive day spas. Explore the region by bike, take a scenic flight or venture into the protected area of Te Urewera with a Maori guide.

A lodge situated on the edge of a lake with mountains in the background
Explore the stunning island from a tranquil base in Rotorua
Two people on a swing bridge high up in a forest of green trees
Take a canopy tour for a bird's eye view of the lush forest

How to get there

Tongariro National Park is in the central part of the North Island southwest of Rotorua and Lake Taupo. The area is easily accessible with many motorways connecting to the park.

The drive from Auckland or Wellington is four to five hours and the nearest towns are Taumarunui, National Park Village, Ohakune and Turangi with Whakapapa located within the park.

Road surrounded by vegetation with sunset and pink clouds over a mountain
Watch orange sunset clouds hang over Tongariro and Ngauruhoe
Flat road leading to the mountain with blue sky and white clouds
Feel as though you're entering another world as you approach Tongariro

Where to stay?

Make your trip extra special by experiencing a unique stay from our large collection of hand-selected accommodations located in the Tongariro National Park and beyond. Your travel specialist will match you with accommodation that suits your wants and needs. A journey where your accommodation is an experience in itself.

A modern boutique lodge on the edge of the water
Stay in a boutique lodge in Taupo with stunning views
A sunny living room overlooking the water
Relax in luxury surrounded by unparalleled nature
© TravelEssence

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At TravelEssence, we specialise in crafting custom-made holidays that take you off the beaten path and create memories to last a lifetime. We believe in connecting with the heart and soul of a place, introducing you to the locals who call it home. Engage in conversations with fascinating individuals who will share their stories, traditions, and way of life, leaving an indelible mark on your journey.