Tongariro New Zealand

TongariroNationalParkIt really doesn’t matter where you travel in New Zealand, just about everywhere you go is scenically spectacular. Even in a country where it is possible to run out of superlatives to describe particular scenes there are places which even manage to rise above the extraordinary, and one of those places is Tongariro National Park.

Located almost in the centre of the North Island, just beyond New Zealand’s largest inland body of water, Lake Taupo, Tongariro is one of the few places in the world to hold dual World Heritage Status. The national park has been recognised for both its natural and cultural importance, and it is a place that is worth visiting just to be enthralled by its great beauty.

Tongariro National Park contains three active volcanic peaks, being Mt Ruapehu, Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe. The most recent of these to display its volcanic power was Mt Tongariro, which had a brief, unexpected, but ultimately impressive, eruption in November, 2012 that caught many people unawares.

The park is popular with hikers, and there is a network of tracks which allow reasonably safe access to most corners of the park.

The most popular of these is the 19 kilometres Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which is described as being New Zealand’s most popular one day trek. Certainly in this geothermally active area there is a lot to see, including steaming vents, where super heated steam finds an escape point from the hot underground. During this trek you can also enjoy lava flows and craters.

One of the most spectacular sights on the walk is the Loveable Lakes, which is a trio of emerald-coloured lakes which fill volcanic craters and get their intense colours from the wealth of minerals which lurk within the ground.

Due to the altitude, and the fact that you are in New Zealand, the weather can be quite unpredictable and is prone to suddenly change. For that reason, no matter how good the day when you begin your walk, trekkers are advised to carry warm and wet weather clothing, plus extra food and water in case you get stranded.

There are huts along the track which provide protection whenever conditions do get bad. The track can be negotiated in either direction, but the easiest, and therefore most popular, route is to start at the western end of the track.

You can’t miss the peaks of Tongariro National Park as they are able to be viewed from many kilometres away. Tongariro is New Zealand’s oldest national park, and it has a much varied landscape ranging from temperate desert, to forests and alpine regions and is an area of stunning diversity.

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