Tongariro National Park New Zealand

For mountain scenery in the North Island the Tongariro National Park was the fourth national park in the world and the first national park established in New Zealand.

Tongariro National Park Mountains view across Lake Taupo
Tongariro National Park Mountains view across Lake Taupo

The dual World Heritage Site status was awarded due to the Maori cultural significance and associations, the unique landscape, and active volcanoes.

One hundred years before this award the park was a gift to the nation in 1887 from the Maori chief Te Heuheu Tukino.

Tongariro National Park Attractions

One of the main attractions here is that this is where the biggest mountains are in the North Island, and during winter it’s the only place for snow sports in the North Island.

The three mountains dominating the park are Mt Tongariro, Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngauruhoe, with the latter two being among the most active volcanoes worldwide.

Any Lord of the Rings enthusiasts will also be aware that Mt Doom in the films is Mt Ngauruhoe in NZ. Many visitors will go to Tongariro Park to see specific landscapes and locations used for film sets and a lot of these are detailed in tourist information leaflets to make them easy to find.

The scenery is amazing and quite different to other locations in the North Island.

Tongariro Activities

The active status of Tongariro volcano Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngauruhoe does not put off national and international visitors to the park from participating in the many activities, here is a taster of things to do.

Walks and Tramping

As well as the most famous ‘Tongariro Alpine Crossing’ there are other multi day treks such as the Tongariro Trek and Northern Circuit (Great Walk), and many short walks to suit any fitness level.

By booking a guided walk you can learn about the cultural history along with a wealth of information about the flora and fauna of the region as you pass through. This is information that is difficult to discover without a knowledgeable guide and it’s easy to miss a lot of interesting details if you don’t know what you are looking for.

Hot Pools

Tokaanu Hot Springs hot pool complex, relax in therapeutic natural hot water from thermal springs or take a walk to look at the bubbling mud and steaming pools of clear spring water.

Mountain Biking

In the Ruapehu region there are 14 mountain bike trails listed to suit various levels of riding and duration to complete, short rides right up to the longest at 46km. Grab a leaflet showing bike trails around Ruapehu, Ohakune, Raetihi and National Park from Whakapapa Visitor Centre / National Park Village Visitor Centre, or visit for mountain biking information.

Kayaking / Canoeing

The Whakapapa River is there to enjoy kayaking or paddling trips and is a tributary of the famous Whanganui River.

Embark on the Whanganui Journey, one of the ‘Great Walks’ that takes you down the Whanganui River.

Scenic Flights

Book a scenic flight and have an incredible experience seeing the park from above. There are different trips with a range of prices to suit and what you can expect to see includes combinations of; Blue Lake, Red Crater, Emerald Lakes, Tama Lakes, Hot Springs at Ketetahi, and the massive crater that is now Lake Taupo.


Fancy a bit of wilderness fishing? Visitor centres and/or the Dept of Conservation provide information about fishing permits and locations in Tongariro and surrounding areas where you can fish.

Winter Sports

In the North Island, this is where you need to be to go skiing or snowboarding during the winter months. I’ve been in this region during the spring and seen New Zealanders dashing to these mountains to get a last ski trip before the snow melts!

Outdoor Information

Tongariro weather forecast

Check out volcanic activity at GeoNet

NZ Outdoor Safety Code

Fitness - Outdoor Clothes and Kit

Places to Stay in Tongariro

See Tongariro Accommodation for an overview.

Tongariro National Park Location

List of national parks in New Zealand


Birds and Animals