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After 10 seconds at Tongariro National Park, it’s easy to understand why the region was chosen as the backdrop for Peter Jackson’s epic Lord of the Rings trilogy. The park’s three dormant volcanoes, immortalized in the films, rise high above the cool, clear waters of Lake Taupo. Now that the swell of post movie hobbit hunters has subsided, New Zealand’s oldest national park is once again a serene realm of geological anomalies. The highlight of Tongariro’s ethereal sights is the so-called Craters of the Moon – a steamy stretch of burping mud and smokey-spewing craters.
Hike the Tongariro Massif, pull on your boots for one of the world’s greatest day hikes. The Tongariro Crossing takes in some of New Zealand’s most dramatic volcanic landscapes. The initial ascent is a killer – a hard slog on loose lava scree – but emerging on the plateau beneath brooding Mt Ngauruhoe is a life-affirming moment. On a clear day the sun glimmers on azure lakes, Red Crater diffuses a warm glow and panoramic vistas reveal a cinematic landscape littered with volcanic rubbles, lahars and jagged lava.
In New Zealand, nature is the main attraction.