Tongariro National Park: 10 Must-See Highlights - AmazingPlaces.com

Tongariro National Park

New Zealand's oldest national park

Tongariro National Park is a famous natural area in New Zealand's North Island. It is best known for its mountains with snowy peaks, bright blue lakes and three active volcanoes. You can go out on one of the most famous walking tracks of New Zealand, or simply admire the landscape.

The nature reserve is approximately 796 km² in size. Which is remarkably large. In 1887, chief Te Heuheu Tūkino IV gifted these volcanoes to the New Zealand government. That’s when the area was declared a national park. It is the first nature reserve to be declared a national park in New Zealand. In 1990 it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Tongariro National Park has three active volcanoes. They have wonderful names: Mount Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Mount Tongariro. Ngauruhoe was featured as Mount Doom in the Lord of the Ring movies, so you can have a guess at how amazing the landscape of Tongariro is.

The park is one of the best attractions ofNew Zealand. Yes, this is Lord of the Rings, but for real. It has numerous sights and highlights, and weird animals, including the brown kiwi.

A kiwi sign in Tongariro National Park.

In this article I have also listed the best excursions. Because in addition to hiking, you can also go mountain biking, kayaking and rafting. In winter you can go skiing. And the most beautiful walking routes, which differ greatly in length. So that you can also hit the road with less time.

Tōngariro National Park Visitor Centre

The Tōngariro National Park Visitor Center is perfect to start your journey. You'll find all current information about the hiking routes, for example whether some hiking trails are closed. You can also get information about  the best locations to see wildlife. You can also get a lot of tips for campsites and other accommodations, although it is smart to arrange this in advance. The visitor center is located in Whakapapa Village.

Whakapapa Village

Whakapapa Village is the starting point for most travellers. You will find hotels and other places to stay. Numerous organised excursions also depart from Whakapapa Village. And you will find countless shops for all your groceries, such as food and drinks. Logically there are also restaurants and cafes in the town.

Mount Tongariro

The famous Mount Tongariro is a volcano of 1,978 meters. It has several craters on the top. The volcano is located 20 kilometers southwest of Lake Taupo.

Mount Ngauruhoe

The amazing Mount Ngauruhoe in Tongariro National Park.

Mount Ngauruhoe acted as Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings. When you see him you recognise him from the movies. It is 2,287 meters high and was very active until 1975. He is now calmer, although now and then he still shows a large ash cloud.

Mount Ruapehu

A brightly coloured lake in Mount Ruapehu.

Mount Ruapehu is 2,797 meters high, making it the highest point on the North Island. This volcano has three peaks: Tahurangi (2,797 m), Te Heuheu (2,755 m) and Paretetaitonga (2,751 m). In the crater you will find a crater lake that often dries up in summer.

Emerald Lakes

The famous Emerald Lakes in Tongariro.

The Emerald Lakes are the most famous place in Tongariro National Park. You can see these strikingly coloured lakes in many photos on social media. The lakes are full of minerals, hence the striking green or blue color. You will see the Emerald Lakes when you walk the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing (19,4 km)

Tongariro is also the site of one of New Zealand's most famous hikes. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a one-day hike straight through the Tongariro National Park.
It takes most people about 7-8 hours. Start early in the day, because the hardest part is at the beginning. And so you have enough time for this ultimate hike.
The walk is considered one of the most spectacular walks on the North Island. It leads along mountains, lakes and offers unprecedented views. In which you walk along both Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe, and view the Emerald Lakes. This is the hike if you want to see how beautiful Tongariro National Park is.

Visiting Tongariro National Park

Tongariro National Park is located on the south side of Lake Taupo in New Zealand's North Island. From there it is still an hour's drive. There is good public transport available; buses run. From cities such as Auckland and Wellington it is a 4.5 drive to the national park.

My Tips

Show all Bucket List Tips on New Zealand

Read My Tips

all 13 articles on New Zealand

Show all articles