Itching To Explore The Tongariro National Park? Now’s The Perfect Time To Tick It Off The Bucket List!
Did you know that Tongariro National Park is NZ’s oldest national park being established in 1887? The park is also home to 3 iconic Kiwi volcanoes: Tongariro, Ngaruhoe and Ruapehu. From desert to volcanic rocks, craters, snowfields and forests, Tongariro National really has something for everyone and isn’t just an NZ destination over the ski season. Everywhere you look is different and even more interesting than where you’ve just left your gaze.
There’s a good chance you’ll pass through Tongariro National Park on a North Island road trip. The park is located in the centre of the North Island, and SH 1 leads right through it. So with that being said, here are our recommendations for what to do, where to eat and of course, where to stay when experiencing this breathtaking and rugged region.
Here’s a fun fact for you too, Mount Ngaruhoe is known all around the globe as Mount Doom, from the Lord of the Rings movies [keep scrolling to have a good look at it].
1. MUST DO ACTIVITIES IN THE AREA
2. WHERE TO EAT
3. ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS
1. MUST DO ACTIVITIES IN THE AREA
Drive The Desert Road
If you start your road trip in Auckland, you will be quite surprised by this area in the centre of the North Island. After the sub-tropical north and the rolling green hills, the spectacular geothermal area around Rotorua and beautiful Lake Taupo, there’s this: flat, sandy, dry nothingness, with the exception of the three mountains.
It’s a landscape that North Islanders aren’t used to experiencing, and as someone that has driven this road before, really does make you feel like an ant in a sandbox.
Explore Mount Doom In all It’s Glory!
Lord of the Rings fans will love the North Island for one of its most important filming locations: Mount Ngaruhoe. Even if you’re not obsessed with the LOTR’s movies, this mountain is truly stunning! The symmetry, the harsh colours, and it can be experienced from the comfort of your own vehicle. Well worth a visit, and loads of photos [with our without your LoTR’s costumes].
The Tongariro Crossing
Did you know that Lonely Planet rates the Tongariro Crossing as the best one-day hike in New Zealand? The Tongariro Crossing is around 20km long and takes about 7-8 hours to complete from start to finish [depending on your fitness level]. If you base yourself out of Taupo, you have access to a few tour operators offering this hike as guided tours, including transportation to and from the mountain. Keep tours/public transport in mind as the trip isn’t a loop, so you can easily jump on a bus that will drop you off at the start and pick you up on the other side. The hike leads through varied terrain, including springs, lava flows, lots and lots of volcanic rock and the spectacular turquoise lakes.
In terms of the best times to conquer this iconic trek. We asked around the Bachcare family and the general consensus was that it’s best to go over Spring [for those that like seeing a little bit of snow] or in autumn when the weather is still hot, but not smouldering. Over winter, the track is open and closed often making it hard to plan a trip in advantage. So we recommend keeping it simple and going at a time of year that you know you won’t freeze, or be turned away due to unpredictable weather.
Check Out Taranaki Falls
One of the most impressive and beautiful New Zealand waterfalls, Taranaki Falls is located in Tongariro National Park. The waterfall is accompanied by unforgeable views of Mt Ruapehu, Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Tongariro, and fantastic walk through the beech forest. This waterfall is included in New Zealand’s Must See Waterfall’s list.
There are views from the base of the waterfall and from the top (if you dare get close enough). Taranaki Falls is one a 2-hour loop accessed from Whakapapa Village.
High Tea In The Chateau Tongariro
For those looking for something alternative to do in the hiking and mountain biking mecca of New Zealand, look no further than the Chateau Tongariro! From the High Tea menu, you can choose from a selection of delicious finger sandwiches, scones and sweet treats, accompanied by your choice of espresso coffee or our range of gourmet fresh teas – served to you.
The elegant Chateau Tongariro Hotel is located within Whakapapa Village – in the heart of Tongariro National Park and was constructed during the ‘roaring twenties’, and completed in 1929. Gaze upon Mt Ngauruhoe from the comfort of an armchair while you stuff your face on fancy cakes and sip on tea. Sounds good, right?
Bike The Old Coach Road
There are loads of awesome bike trails around the Tongariro National Park. However, the cream of the crop has to be the Old Coach Road! Bike along a historic trail with a mix of forest, railway relics and views over the rural countryside. The 15km one-way trail takes around 2h 20mins to complete by bike or 4h30min to walk.
2. FOOD, FOOD & MORE FOOD!
Open since 2002, The Station caters to a wide range of guests, always offers a welcome smile and is a lovely spot for travellers passing through or stopping to experience the Tongariro World Heritage, Summer and Winter. Fully licensed and open every day, The Station offers a superb atmosphere for lunch, dinner or any special occasion.
Named after the historic Raurimu railway spiral that winds its way up the central plateau, the Spiral Restaurant & Bar has a warm, hospitable atmosphere and a ton of character. With seasonal menus, children’s menu and al fresco dining, they pride ourselves on being a favourite of both guests and locals after a big day out on the mountain. They can also provide the option of packed lunches on request for groups or as part of one of there adventure packages.
This iconic restaurant serves gourmet hamburgers cooked on a distinctive custom wood fire grill. The entire menu, from brunch to burgers, is characterized by unique flavours that are representative of popular countries. The wood-fired grill introduces a subtle manuka smokiness that enhances the overall flavour of the burger. All of there burgers are made from fresh quality ingredients that are cooked to order.
3. Accommodation Options
Cosy Alpine HQ – Ohakune Holiday Home
8 People | 3 Bedrooms | 1 Bathroom | From $175
Newly built in 2017, this stylish Alpine option has plenty of modern comforts to compliment your Ruapehu stay… Rest and relax or check out the action, your Cosy Alpine HQ awaits at Ohakune!
8 People | 3 Bedrooms | 1 Bathroom | From $180
This Ohakune holiday home includes a light and comfortable open plan living. Stay toasty by the fire, or unwind on the deck – there is ample room for your group to kick back and chill out. For those wishing to stay connected, Wi-Fi is available.
6 People | 3 Bedrooms | 1 Bathroom | From $135
The Stables is a peaceful escape in quaint Rangataua, just minutes from Ohakune and with its own little back road direct to the bottom of the Turoa Mountain Road. This eclectic home away from home is overflowing with charm and character, from the saddle stools to the glamorous chandeliers to the vintage ornaments.