The Ruapehu region is defined by the three volcanoes that stand sentinel over a landscape of tussocked desert, rivers, lakes and thermal springs.
Today the volcanoes are part of the Tongariro World Heritage Park, New Zealand’s first national park. The centerpiece is the snow-capped Mount Ruapehu with, alongside, the two smaller cones of Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Tongariro. For skiers and snowboarders, Ruapehu is the site of two of the North Island’s best skifields.
Snow pursuits aside, there are many other outdoor and adventure activities in the region. The hiking on offer in this region is absolutely spectacular. For sheer scenic incredibility, you must walk the Tongariro Crossing. This one-day hike takes you from alpine meadow to mountain summit across a surreal landscape of craters, coloured lakes and volcanic rock.
For mountain bikers, there are two NZ Cycle Trail Network Trails; the Timber Trail and the Mountains to Sea - Nga Ara Tuhono Trail. There's also several smaller cycle trails rich in native landscape and history. The area is popular with hunters and, for trout fishers, the small tributary rivers provide excellent if challenging sport. Experience the tranquil Whanganui River by canoe or jet boat, isolated deep in the Whanganui National Park.
There is plenty of accommodation in the towns around the area with everything from the basic backpacker’s hostels to boutique lodges and the Edwardian grandeur of the Chateau on the slopes of Mount Ruapehu.
- The Ruapehu region is home to the Tongariro National Park, the Whanganui National Park and the Whanganui River. It is a four hour drive from Auckland or Wellington and close to Waitomo Caves, Rotorua and Taupo.
- Mountain weather can be cold, even in summer months, so be prepared. You should also be well equipped for journeys in the remote Whanganui National Park.
- When it comes to disposing of rubbish in the national parks and conservation areas, the rule is "carry it in, carry it out".
- Consider enlisting the services of an experienced local guide, who will enrich your travels with knowledge of the landscape and its history.