The North Island's Volcanic Plateau is famous for its 3 active volcanoes - Mt Ruapehu, Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Tongariro. Sitting at 2797m, Mt Ruapehu is the North Island’s highest peak and is popular for skiing and bush walking. Mt Tongariro is known for the world famous Alpine Crossing- a 19km hike over the mountain, voted one of the best scenic 1 day walks in the world. Mt Ngauruhoe has an almost perfect conical peak and is maybe better known as ‘Mt Doom’ from The Lord of the Rings films.
We took on the mighty Tongariro Crossing, which had been on both of our bucket lists. It really was a stunning walk, but it’s not for the faint hearted, mind. It took us 7.5 hours with many steep inclines along the way. The ‘wow’ moment was climbing up to the Red Crater, over the highest point of the walk and seeing the 3 Emerald Lakes in the basin before us, and the picturesque Blue Lake in the distance. We had such a good day for it, that we had 360 degrees views from the top and could see Lake Taupo in one direction and the distant Mt Taranaki in the other.
Visiting Mt Ruapehu the next day, we passed Chateau Tongariro, situated at Whakapapa Village half way up the mountain, an elegant hotel nestled in the heart of the National Park and surrounded by stunning natural landscapes. Up until now, we had been struggling to find a campsite near enough to all the different activities that are here in the Central Plateau, but today we came across a great little holiday park here in the village on the mountain, and we are very happy with our little find. A little bit higher, we came across the ‘SkyWaka’, a cable car which transports passengers 1.8km up the mountain, making it NZ’s longest gondola. There are multiple walks at the top, 360 degrees views(again!!) and a very nice restaurant and cafe to take in the views.
The historic Old Coach Road is another attraction in this area. It once connected the two ends of the Auckland to Wellington rail trunkline by stage coach, and was extensively used until the railway line was finally completed in the 1920’s. We took our bikes and rode the 15km trail, along cobblestoned roads, amongst native bush, under massive steel viaducts and through old stone tunnels – it was pretty spectacular.
CHECK OUT OUR HIGHLIGHTS FROM OUR ADVENTURE THROUGH TO THE CENTRAL PLATEAU IN THE VIDEO BELOW!