Even before you arrive in Tongariro National Park its three mighty volcanoes – Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro – steal your breath from the horizon. It would be a wasted opportunity not to get closer, which is possible on the ski fields and during the other-worldly, day-long Tongariro Alpine Crossing, as well as other walks to natural features. You don’t have to cover all 796 sq km of the National Park to be awed by nature.
The National Park – New Zealand’s first – was gifted by local Tuwharetoa Māori more than a century ago. Long before it was granted dual Unesco World Heritage status for its volcanic landscape and deep cultural importance, the Māori believed that the mountains were strong warriors who fought among each other. In the process, they created the landscape that attracts more than 200,000 visitors each year. Visit once and you’ll understand why it was worth fighting for.