Should you ever find yourself in the central area of New Zealand’s North Island, then the Tongariro National Park should be somewhere on the top of your list, if not number one.
This compound volcano is located some 20 kilometers southwest of Lake Taupo, and together with his siblings – Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe – they form the still active volcanic zone that dominates the landscape of the island (the last eruption of one of Tongariro’s peaks was on the 6th of August 2012).
Maori legends say that, long ago, seven mountains stood close together around Lake Taupo, all being male except Pihanga. So naturally, one day the men started fighting for her favour, spitting smoke and fire while shaking the earth. In the morning Tongariro stood victorious next to Pihanga, while Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu stood a respectable distance behind. Taranaki even fled all the way to the shore of the Tasman Sea.
The Tongariro National Park was New Zealand’s first national park as well as one of the earliest in the world. If you have time to spare, the Tongariro Northern Circuit is one of New Zealand’s ”5 Great Walks” and is a stunning 5 day hike around and through the volcanic massif. A shorter alternative would be the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which is an equally breathtaking 1 day hike between Tongariro and Ngauruhoe up to the famous green emerald lakes (the name is well deserved). Just be aware that although this is a relatively easy hike, it is still some 20 km long and quite steep in places. On your way up have a good look at Ngauruhoe, it was Peter Jackson’s inspiration for Mount Doom in his Lord of the Rings film adaptation.
Post source: Go Chase the Sun
User submission by Bojan Milicevic of Go Chase The Sun