Tongariro National Park: 4 Things to do that aren’t skiing
Tongariro National Park is one of the oldest in the world, first established in 1887. The stunning alpine landscape covers 80,000 hectares and is home to three volcanoes, rare native birds and plenty of adventure.
In summer the Tongariro Crossing is the place to be. In winter thousands flock to the slopes to enjoy skiing and snowboarding. But if winter sports aren’t your thing don’t worry. There’s still plenty of activities to enjoy in the Tongariro National Park.
White water rafting
White water rafting is the perfect way to get a hit of adrenaline whilst also enjoying the beauty of nature. Tongariro River Rafting offers half-day trips all year from Turangi.
The two-hour journey takes you down a 13km stretch of the Whanganui River. In between the 60 rapids, you’ll marvel at sights that can only be accessed by water. Towering volcanic cliffs, dense native bush and if you’re lucky you might even see some Blue Ducks which are rarer than the Kiwi.
You’ll stay comfortable and warm with everything you need provided. The guides are great and will provide you with instructions, fun facts about the area and a few jokes.
Walk to a waterfall
In the Tongariro National Park there are multiple waterfalls, all of which can be accessed via relatively easy walks.
The track to Taranaki Falls is only 100m from the Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre. The walk takes about two hours in total and takes you through alpine shrublands past stunning mountain views. The falls themselves are surrounded by native bush filled with birds and tumble over a 15,000-year-old lava flow.
The Waitonga Falls are Tongariro National Park’s highest falls. On a clear day, there are fantastic views of Mount Ruapehu. The track is 11km from Ohakune Mountain Road and takes about an hour and half
This track can also be found close to the Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre. During the two and a half hour walk, you’ll be treated to an array of colours produced by the volcanic landscape. You’ll pass ancient lava flows, swampland and unique alpine plants all while enjoying the crisp mountain air.
Relax in thermal springs
Thermal hot springs are the perfect way to unwind after a day of adventure. This level of relaxation is made possible thanks to the geothermal activity in the area. There are a couple of places in the Tongariro National Park it can be enjoyed.
Tokaanu thermal springs
Tokaanu thermal springs are located in a small village near Turangi. The $8 entry fee gives you all-day access to the large public pool. Alternatively, you can pay a little bit extra to relax in one of the 12 private pools.
Tongariro Springs Boutique Suites
If you want to be able to go straight from your hotel room to the warm water then stay at the Tongariro Springs Boutique Suites. The hotel is home to a heated swimming pool and spa pool both of which provide excellent views of the Tongariro National Park.
Visit New Zealand’s highest café
Knoll Ridge is 2,020m above sea level making this the highest place in the country where you can get a cup of coffee. Take the Sky Waka Gondola from Whakapapa and enjoy a meal while sitting atop New Zealand’s largest active volcano.
There are a range of dining options suitable for everyone, from quick snacks to delish meals featuring fresh local produce.
The gondola operates seasonally so make sure you check it’s open before heading out.