Tongariro National Park

Centred upon three volcanoes –Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu –Tongariro National Park is home to some of New Zealand’s most dramatic landscapes.

Ruapehu
Old Coach Road, Ruapehu

By Camilla Stoddart

Ruapehu
Mt Ruapehu, Tongariro National Park, Ruapehu

By Penny Egleton

Ruapehu
Taranaki Falls, Ruapehu

By Graeme Murray

Ruapehu
Happy Valley Beginners Area, Ruapehu

By Visit Ruapehu

New Zealand
Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand

By Graeme Murray

New Zealand
You'll enjoy native forests like this one on the 42 Traverse, New Zealand

By Destination Lake Taupo

Tongariro became New Zealand’s first national park in 1887. Just over one hundred years later, the park was awarded dual UNESCO World Heritage status for both its cultural significance to the Māori people, as well as its outstanding natural features.

The 80,000-hectare park is a spectacular showcase of volcanic wonders including emerald lakes, old lava flows, steaming craters, colourful silica terraces and peculiar alpine gardens. It is an environment of staggering beauty and diversity.

Three volcanoes – Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro – mark the southern limits of the Taupo Volcanic Zone, the horseshoe-shaped series of volcanic phenomena that make up the Pacific Ocean’s ‘Ring of Fire’.

Volcanic activity started here around two million years ago and continues to this day. Ruapehu and Tongariro, which date back before the last ice age, are two of the most active composite volcanoes in the world, with Ruapehu last erupting in 1996. Ngauruhoe – geologically considered a ‘vent’ – last erupted in 1975.

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Activities

Tongariro National Park has sights and activities to suit every interest, age and ability.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

The deservedly popular Tongariro Alpine Crossing features phenomenal volcanic scenery and fine views of Lake Taupō and Mt Taranaki.

Multiday Walks

Overnight hikes in the park include the four-day Northern Circuit and the six-day Round the Mountain track – one of New Zealand's Great Walks.

Nature Trails

A series of short nature trails around Tongariro’s lower slopes take in the various habitats home to fascinating and diverse native flora and fauna, and are a great way to get to know the park’s special places and stories. Home to the national park visitor centre, Whakapapa Village is a good place to start exploring.

Waterfall-watching

Dramatic waterfalls are a Tongariro National Park speciality. See them on a number of spectacular short walks including Taranaki Falls, Waitonga Falls, Silica Rapids and Tawhai Falls.

Skiing

Get up close to Mt Ruapehu when it is blanketed in glorious snow. Enjoy excellent skiing and boarding at Mt Ruapehu's ski areas – Whakapapa, Tūroa and Tukino. For non-skiers there is tobogganing and tubing or just drive up to see the spectacular view.

New Zealand’s highest café

A scenic ride on the gondola at Whakapapa reaches New Zealand’s highest café, Knoll Ridge, where you can enjoy super-scenic dining in summer as well as winter.

Lord of the Rings film sites

Tongariro National Park’s awe-inspiring scenery earned it starring roles in Peter Jackon’s Lord of The Rings trilogy, with Mt Ngauruhoe taking centre stage.

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Key Tips

  • With adequate clothing, equipment and experience, visitors can enjoy the park at any time of year.
  • Before departing on a walk, check at the Department of Conservation Visitor Centre for up-to-date information on weather, volcanic activity and track conditions
  • Fill in an intention form at the Department of Conservation Visitor Centre if you plan to overnight in a hikers' hut
  • Take sunscreen and sunglasses, summer or winter
  • When packing for an adventure in the park, be prepared for all weather eventualities.

Accommodation

The walk known as the Tongariro Northern Circuit is served by four Department of Conservation ‘Great Walk’ huts. DOC also has a number of 'Serviced' and 'Basic' huts in other parts of the park.

Inside the national park boundary, Whakapapa Village has a range of accommodation, from campsites and lodges, to the historic and truly iconic Chateau Tongariro Hotel.

Various types of accommodation can be found in and around the nearby towns of Turangi, National Park Village and Ohakune, Raetihi, Taumarunui.

Whatever kind of accommodation you choose, it will pay to book in advance during peak season (December to March).

Find & book flights

Where to next?

National Parks →

Tongariro Alpine Crossing →

Ruapehu Attractions →

Ruapehu →