- Tongariro National Park – RuapehuWhakapapa – Ruapehu Right
Outstanding natural features, Maori cultural and spiritual connections, an all seasons destination…
Visit Ruapehu. Where adventure begins!
The Ruapehu district takes its name from the sacred Mt Ruapehu (rua “pit”, pehu “to explode”) which at 2797 metres is the highest mountain in the North Island. Just four hours drive from either Auckland or Wellington or an even shorter drive from Waitomo Caves or Rotorua, visitors can experience the majestic beauty of the Ruapehu District. Home to the Tongariro National Park, the Whanganui National Park and the Whanganui River the area includes some of the most diverse landscape in New Zealand. Deserts, mountains, lakes, pristine rivers, active volcanoes, rich farm land and native flora and fauna are all part of this unique district, which is steeped in Maori and European history.
Sought after as an major film location, recent movies shot in Ruapehu region include the Oscar Award winning Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, River Queen and the second Hobbit Movie ‘The Desolation of Smaug’.
Tongariro National Park
The most striking topographical and geological features of the North Island are the central North Island volcanoes; Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro. Together the mountains form the Tongariro National Park, New Zealand’s first National Park and a dual listed World Heritage area. Consisting of snow-capped volcanoes, crater and alpine lakes, pristine rain forest, sparkling rivers, dramatic waterfalls and astonishing native flora and fauna and New Zealand’s two largest ski resorts, Tongariro National Park is a unique and remarkable experience.
Mt Ruapehu is New Zealand’s most accessible live volcano. In the winter, Mt Ruapehu’s majestic slopes are home to New Zealand’s largest and most developed ski fields, Whakapapa and Turoa Ski Areas and the smaller club owned skifield Tukino. Nowhere else in New Zealand can you have an experience that Mt Ruapehu offers
Whanganui National Park & River
The Whanganui National Park has diverse landscapes containing fast and slow running rivers, crystal clear waterfalls, deep gorges and fern clad banks, wide river flats and extensive wilderness areas, rich in native flora and fauna. The Whanganui River, the longest navigable river in New Zealand, has its origin high on Mt Tongariro, starting as an alpine stream gathering waters from Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu. It descends through the central volcanic plateau and then continues for around 160km, winding through the Whanganui National Park to meet the Tasman Sea.
Main Towns & Villages
Taumarunui is known as the Heart of the King Country. The meeting place of the Ongarue and Whanganui rivers, river activities abound and now a fantastic base for completing a new addition to the New Zealand Cycle Trail network, The Timber Trail. Taumarunui is also famous for its history, railway heritage, golf and gardens.
Owhango is a lovely rural village twenty minutes south of Taumarunui. Bordering the Tongariro Forest Park containing pristine rivers, scenic bush and native wildlife, Tongariro Forest Park is home to the famous 42 Traverse mountain bike ride.
Raurimu is famous for the magnificent railway spiral , built in 1908 and recognised in 1997 as an Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Short trips through the spiral can be arranged, or visitors can stay in Raurimu and see the three levels of the Raurimu Spiral from the viewing platform and enjoy the local hospitality.
National Park Village borders the Tongariro National Park and is situated on the volcanic plateau with stunning views of the three mountains. Fishers Track, a grade 2 section of the Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail, is conveniently located in the near the historic railway station. This has been transformed into a café & restaurant.
Whakapapa Village, located at the base of Mt Ruapehu in the Tongariro National Park is around ten minutes drive to Whakapapa ski field. Key scenes from the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu while the crew stayed at the historic Chateau Tongariro located at the base of the mountain. The highest golf course in New Zealand can also be found here, 9 holes nestled on the front lawns of the Chateau Tongariro Hotel.
Ohakune is situated on the south-western side of Mt Ruapehu. A stylish resort town and retail centre, Ohakune is also known as the après ski capital of the North Island and the carrot capital of New Zealand. Key scenes from the Lord of the Rings movies and second Hobbit movie were also filmed on this side of Mt Ruapehu and the crew made their base at the Powderhorn Chateau. The Ohakune Mountain Road, the access road to Turoa Ski Area, – this is the official starting point of the Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail. Other sections of the cycle trail, such as the Ohakune Old Coach Road, are also easily located nearby.
Raetihi is a small historical town located on State Highway 4 around 10 minutes drive from Ohakune. The film crew for the River Queen movie spent several months in Raetihi filming scenes on and around the Whanganui River and the Whanganui National Park. Raetihi is a great access point to Whanganui River jetboat and canoeing activities.
Waiouru is home to the New Zealand Army and the “must see” Waiouru Army Museum. Featuring life size dioramas, the displays include the moving ‘Tears of Greenstone’, a dramatic memorial wall and the largest greenstone structure in the Southern Hemisphere.