If you are a Lord of the Rings fan, then you will enjoy the drive from Lake Taupo to the heart of Tongariro National Park. Leaving from Turangi towards Whakapapa Village, take Highway 1 south to Highway 46 west!
For those of you that are a little more adventurous, you can also take a hike through the middle of these plains on a short or long hike. Sarah and I simply drove through this part, but maybe next time we will be a little more wild!
During our trip to the North Island, Sarah and I decided to take a day and visit all of the backdrops for the movie Lord of the Rings. Starting in the morning out at Hobbiton, we crossed the Plains of Gororoth and into Mordor!
Mordor is actually Tongariro National Park, and specifically the region near Whakapapa Village. We enjoyed our time here, although we were disappointed at how cloudy it was.... the nice part about the clouds however were that they left us a little snow to play around in!
Over all we had a great time in Tongariro, and would definitely recommend it!
Since it was cloudy, the best picture I could get of Mount Doom, better known as Mt. Ngauruhoe to the locals, or anyone not addicted to Lord of the Rings.
Sarah and I ventured past the normal picture making locations for Mount Ngauruhoe and onto the Whakapapa Village and headed into the Visitors Center, where they actually had a model of the entire park.
It would have been nice to see it live!
This one day mountain trek is very accessible to most able bodied people. A very popular walk, it's well worth the effort if the weather is somewhat "nice".
I'm holding the flag tight because it was so windy I nearly lost it!
Depending on your fitness, and the weather, oh and the density of trampers on the day, the walk can take anything from 6 - 10 hrs.
Average is 8 hours. I took 10 hours, being quite unfit, but able bodied. I took a LOT of time to stop and appreciate the view, taking plenty of photos. Of course this mean well earned rests for my legs which were suffering from shock having been put to extreme use without much warning!!
Remember this is a mountain and the weather can change rapidly, so take clothes, water and food for the worst conditions. People HAVE died on these mountains, not as one Aussie I met said when I quoted this, he replied "oh only in the movies"!! Get real! He was lucky and survived, and I was glad the weather cooperated for him.
You can read a more indepth coverage of this adventure here.
En la carretera que va desde Rotorua hacia Tongariro se pasa al lado del Lago Taupo y los paisajes por los que se va pasando son impresionantes
On the road from Rotorua to Tongariro we passed to the side of Lake Taupo and the landscapes were awesome
Decidimos hacer un recorrido de un día sólamente y elegimos hacer una ruta que nos recomendaron en el Visitors Centre , saliendo desde allí que duraba unas tres o cuatro horas
Fue un paseo muy agradable , pues no era muy duro aunque en algún momento tenía pendientes no muy fuertes
Cuando nos lo permitían las nubes , teníamos unas grandes vistas de los volcanes y el paisaje era muy variado , árido en algún momento , en otros cuando íbamos al lado de los ríos la vegetación cambiaba completamente y se volvía verde y frondosa en otros momentos se veían cataratas
Fué un paseo muy agradable
We decided to do a tramp of one day only and we decided to do a route that they recommend to us in the Visitors Centre, we left from there and ti lasted about three or four hours
It was a very nice tramp , because it was easy though at some there were some easy slopes
When we clouds allowed , we had great views of the volcanoes and the landscape was very diverse, arid at some point, when we went by the river the vegetation changed completely and turned green and lushand in other moments we could see waterfalls
It was a very nice ride
Day 3. Ketetahi Hut to Waihohonu Hut,6-7 hours, 16.5 km.
I was glad that the weather was fantastic, so i got to see all the picturesque scenery that i missed on day 2, coz day 3, i hadanother chance to walk back to see the emerald lake and the blue lake that i missed on day 2, the routeon day 3 needed to retrack back . But still the view from Ketahi hut was so impressive. Do bring instant coffee,chocolate, i found there's nothing better than watching a fantastic view, in a cold morning, drinking a cup of hot drinks.
Next on the track was the Oturere valley, once carved by glaciers and now filled by a huge lava flow.
Day4. Waihohonu Hut to Whakapapa ,5½–6 hours, 16km.
The track follows an old pack route beside Waihohonu Stream without much climbing. On the way there are side trips to the Lower and Upper Tama Lakes (20 minutes and 90 minutes return), formed by water filled volcanic craters. Just before Whakapapa the Taranaki Falls form a 5 minute detour from the main track.
General Tips: Most of the track are fantastic, the path/tracks are well marked, and as the tracks are populars, no need worry to get lost, there lots of other bunchs of people.
travel light: the huts are all excellent, with heatings, and kitchen. So travel light, no need camping equipments. Warm clothes, sleeping bags are necessary, it can get a bit cold at night time. Pots are availabe too, in most huts. So just bring your instant coffee, instant noddle. you need strong legs for this trip especially on day 2, its a climbing track. But the scenery worth it.
The sun rise is beautiful too, there are times, u need to wake up a bit early to catch the sunrise
The Tongariro Northern Circuit, one of the New Zealand Great Walks, is a three to four day tramp in Tongariro National Park, New Zealand.
Day1. Whakapapa Village to Mangetopo hut ,3-5 hours, 8.5 km.
The track crosses tussock and dozens of small streams, which have eroded the track in places and make sloppy and muddy conditions when it rains.
Honestly the track is a bit boring, but very easy, it;s plain no climbing. The locals call it" the ditch"
Day2. Mangetopo to Ketahi hut .5-6 hours, 9 km.
In a bad weather, this track can be very awful. I quote," In bed weather, it;s really not a good idea to go on the plateu, as it is open and exposed. " HONESTLY, it was true. At that time, it was foggy, the wind is gusting, some of the marking poles were blown away. It is like in a science fiction movie. I was not even sure, if i were walking on the right path. ANd i saw nothing, no emerald lake, no blue lake. NOTHING. I included pictures of things i supposed to see in a good weather.
There is a large number of trails from easy to more difficult, from a short 15 minute walk to a day or more.
The most famous is Tongariro Crossing that takes several hours, 7 to 8.
On the way to Whakapapa Village there is for example Tawhai Falls, a mere 10-15 minutes away from the road. This fall appears on LOTR.
From Whakapapa there are several walks:
Ridge Track - about 30 min return
Silica Rapids - 2.5hours
Taranaki Falls - about 2 hours loop
Crater Lake - from the ski Area chair lift - a few hours, cut by a few if the lift is taken.
Guided Walks take reservations to Crater lake.
The day hike of Tongariro National Park was a highlight of my trip to New Zealand. I started in Taupo and took signed up for a bus which took me to the trail head early in the morning and picked me up in the afternoon at the end of the trail for $20. (December 2003) It a great service which I wished many other trails had.
The hike was often on loose volcanic soil and went from a light rain into snow as I rose in elevation. There were literally hundreds of people on this popular trail, so their was no sense of being alone with nature. It was often foggy and had limited visibility, but the sun broke through occasionally to give stunning views over emerald and blue lakes and the volcanic landscape. On the way down the trail often followed a cascading stream through a forest with one impressive waterfall.
It's barren and steep and you'll hate yourself for doing it after the first climb and realize you're only halfway up. But it's beautiful and the sense of accomplishment once you're back in Whakapapa is well worth it. The track can be comfortably done in four days, staying overnight in the DoC huts. If you wake up early enough and want to suffer a little more, it can be done in two. The scenery is spectacular, just make sure you go on a "mostly-sunny" day so that you're not in clouds at the summit. Go mid-week. This way you'll avoid the tourists doing the Tongariro Crossing (which is incorporated in a section of the Northern Circuit). Bring rain gear and your own toilet paper! Check with the DoC for a (required) hut pass and information on track conditions, as well as a packing list. The huts provide gas cookers, but you'll need to bring your own food. Make sure you have water!
Although not as pretty as the Emerald Lakes, the Blue Lake is another volcanic lake that the Tongariro Crossing passes by. The Blue Lake is on the opposite side of the Central Crater from the Emerald Lakes. In the winter the water freezes but in summer is a lovely deep blue colour.
The DOC website says this about the Blue Lake: "The Blue Lake (an old volcanic vent) is also known as Te Wai-whakaata-o-te-Rangihiroa (Rangihiroa’s Mirror). Te Rangihiroa is said to have explored the Tongariro volcanoes about 1750 AD"
After our two day hike on Tongariro we were all very eager to rest our weary bodies in the soothing mineral waters common in the Tongariro/Taupo district. After a quick stop to ask the lovely ladies at the Turangi Visitors Centre we located the Tokaanu Hot Springs that were located about 5kms north of Turangi on State Highway 41. The water in the Tokaanu Hot Springs is rich in Chloride. There are public and private pools available.
There are many bush walks or wilderness walks in the Tongariro National Park. The most popular walk is the Great Tongariro Crossing (see sports tips for information on that). The crossing itself, although crossing over a volcano, does have about a half hour at least of bush on the Ketetahi side of the trail. It is native New Zealand bush with a stream running through it (probably a tributary to the Tongariro River). You can see lots of Native New Zealand trees and hear birds such as the distinctive Tui. The bush in Tongariro is interesting because the higher you go the vegetation changes.
Mt Tongariro is the third andesitic volcano in the Tongariro National Park and is 1968m above sea level. The last eruption on Mt Tongariro ocurred in 1926 from red crater. When we sat down for a rest in this area tbe ground was still warm which makes me think that the volcano is probably still active.
Most of the Tongariro Crossing is on Mt Tongariro. You will pass through the North and South Craters and the highest point is right next to Red Crater, which is amazing on a fine day. The Ketetahi Hut is located next to some Hot Springs. Unfortunately these are actually on private land so hikers are not able to access them but they do make for cool photos.