Encircling the volcanoes of Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, and Ruapehu, the Tongariro National Park is the oldest in New Zealand. A dual World Heritage site, this National Park is situated in the central north island. While it was the first in New Zealand, overall it was the fourth National Park in the world. Established way back in 1887, Tongariro National Park is home to the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
A little about Tongariro National Park
The first National Park in New Zealand, Tongariro was the also first in the entire world that was gifted by country’s native people. Originally, the National Park was spread across 2640 hectares. But with a gradual expansion over the years, today the National Park covers around 80,000 hectares of land. The active volcanoes of Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, and Ruapehu, surrounding the Tongariro National Park are 1967, 2287 and 2797 metres high respectively. Tongariro National Park became the first place in the world to be given the Dual World Heritage site status in 1993.
The weather pattern at the Tongariro National Park is highly indeterminable, with the region experiencing rainfall and snowfall any time of the year. This is the reason why there are no specific dry or wet months/seasons in the Tongariro National Park. Even after having the perfect conditions for Skiing during winter, it is the Alpine crossing in this park that manages to attract a lot of tourists and adventurers from all over the world.
Tongariro National Park is also home to an amazing variety of flora and fauna. The North Island brown kiwi as well as the endangered blue duck, reside in the dense forests and streams of Tongariro National Park respectively. The Kaka, native falcon, as well as the beautiful parakeet, are some of the birds that one can spot on rare occasions. Also, alpine and mistletoe plants along with orchids and mountain beech forests add to the glory of this place.
Best Time To Visit Tongariro National Park
With cold temperatures throughout the year, it is preferred to visit this National park between December – February when the temperatures are comparatively hot. Also during this time, the grounds are clear of snow and even heavy rains are very unlikely.
How To Reach Tongariro National Park?
By Air: The airport nearest to Tongariro National Park is in Taupo and daily flights to this airport are available. Also, what’s interesting is that there are special sightseeing flights available from airstrips in Taupo, Mt Ruapehu, and Turangi.
By Train: The main railway running to and fro between Auckland and Wellington has National Park Village and Ohakune as its intermediate stations. And as the train runs from north to south three days per week and south to north for three days, people from different parts of the country can easily reach the National Park.
By Road: The park is surrounded by State highways and the towns of Ohakune, Turangi, Taumarunui are also very close to the National Park. Also, if you are in Auckland or Wellington, a mere 4-5 hour drive would take you to the Tongariro National Park. Bus services are also available on a daily basis from Ohakune, Turangi, Taumarunui, and Whakapapa village.
Where To Stay In Tongariro National Park?
The biggest problem you have to deal with while planning a trip to any destination is accommodation. The place has to be safe and secure while also being affordable. Fortunately, there are a lot of places in the vicinity of Tongariro National Park that tick both those boxes. If you are a backpacker on a shoestring budget, then LKNZ Lodge, Plateau Lodge, SKOTEL and Ski Haus are some of the hostels that can help you cut down on expenses while also being very close to the Tongariro National Park. Whereas, if you are someone who loves tranquillity and solitude, then there are beautiful hotels like Donlouin cottage, Chateau Tongariro Hotel as well as Ruapehu Retreat absolutely close to the Tongariro National Park.
Things To Do In Tongariro National Park
1. Hiking, Tongariro Alpine Crossing
One of the most fascinating activities you can indulge in at the Tongariro National Park is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This trek, that is around 20 km long, is considered to be amongst the best one – day hikes in the world. This thrilling trek starts at the Mangatepopo Valley and ends at Ketetahi road. The trail is too steep in some areas which may prove to be difficult for beginners. The entire trek is completed in about 7-8 hours and it takes you through active volcanic craters as well through beautiful lush-green forests. The hikers on this trek are presented with a variety of some of the most beautiful landscapes.
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2. Skiing & Snowboarding, Mount Ruapehu
If you want to get your adrenaline pumping, Skiing or Snowboarding at Mount Ruapehu is the best choice. It is home to two huge ski-fields –Whakapapa and Turoa. The ski-field at Whakapapa caters mostly to beginners or the first-timers, while the ski-field at Turoa is approached by the ones who are more experienced and are seeking a bit more adventure. The best time to visit these ski areas at Mount Ruapehu is from July to October.
3. Mountain Biking
Mount Ruapehu boasts of two of the most fascinating biking trails in New Zealand. One of these biking trails is called the Timber Trail and is 44 Km long, traversing between Ongarue and Piropiro Flats. Being an easy trail, it is the best course that the inexperienced and beginner riders can take. On the other hand, the second trail is called as Mountains to Sea- Nga Ara Tuhono. It runs 28 Km between the central volcanic plateau and the sea in Whanganui. This trail offers more scenic beauty and a better thrilling experience.
Thus, there are a variety of things that the enthralling Tongariro National Park has to offer. With activities like hiking, snowboarding on offer, along the best trails in the world, this National Park is surely a paradise for all the nature-lovers and adventure junkies. So, plan your trip to New Zealand soon, to explore this amazing places and have one of the best times of your life.
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