Tongariro National Park covers a little less than 80,000 hectares. The area has great cultural significance for Maori people, and is recognized by UNESCO as one of only 24 World Heritage sites.
In 1887 the Maori chief Te Heu Heu Tukino IV (Horonuku) showed great foresight by gifting three large volcanic mountains and the surrounding land to the Crown for preservation as a reserve for all people to enjoy.
The three magnificent volcanoes - Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro - are very much alive, with Ruapehu erupting as recently as 1996. Mount Ruapehu offers excellent skiing and snowboarding during winter and a picturesque hike to the summit crater lake in summer. The near-perfect conical shape of Ngauruhoe was the basis for Mount Doom in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. One of New Zealand's best one day walks, the Tongariro Crossing, follows volcanic terrain along the slopes of all three mountains. This seven-hour hike also passes the beautiful emerald and blue lakes high on Mount Tongariro.
Tongariro National Park is full of unusual landscapes - barren lava flows, winter snowfields, hot springs and active craters. The park's botanical life includes alpine herbs, tussocks, flax, low-growing shrubs and tall native beech forests. It's a vast wilderness area ready to be explored, either through short walks and guided tours or extended treks covering several memorable days.
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