The impressive botanical gardens around the world (P.29) - Tongariro National Park: The beauty of New Zealand's first national park


( Centred upon three volcanoes –Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu –Tongariro National Park is home to some of New Zealand’s most dramatic landscapes.

Tongariro became New Zealand’s first national park in 1887. Just over one hundred years later, the park was awarded dual UNESCO World Heritage status for both its cultural significance to the Māori people, as well as its outstanding natural features.

The 80,000-hectare park is a spectacular showcase of volcanic wonders including emerald lakes, old lava flows, steaming craters, colourful silica terraces and peculiar alpine gardens. It is an environment of staggering beauty and diversity.

Three volcanoes – Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro – mark the southern limits of the Taupo Volcanic Zone, the horseshoe-shaped series of volcanic phenomena that make up the Pacific Ocean’s ‘Ring of Fire’.

Volcanic activity started here around two million years ago and continues to this day. Ruapehu and Tongariro, which date back before the last ice age, are two of the most active composite volcanoes in the world, with Ruapehu last erupting in 1996. Ngauruhoe – geologically considered a ‘vent’ – last erupted in 1975.

Tongariro National Park has sights and activities to suit every interest, age and ability.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

The deservedly popular Tongariro Alpine Crossing features phenomenal volcanic scenery and fine views of Lake Taupō and Mt Taranaki.

Multiday Walks

Overnight hikes in the park include the four-day Northern Circuit and the six-day Round the Mountain track – one of New Zealand's Great Walks.

Nature Trails

A series of short nature trails around Tongariro’s lower slopes take in the various habitats home to fascinating and diverse native flora and fauna and are a great way to get to know the park’s special places and stories. Home to the national park visitor centre, Whakapapa Village is a good place to start exploring.


Dramatic waterfalls are a Tongariro National Park specialty. See them on a number of spectacular short walks including Taranaki Falls, Waitonga Falls, Silica Rapids and Tawhai Falls.

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