Tongariro National Park is one of those buzz places at the moment, a destination that showcases the real New Zealand and was until recently off the beaten track for many visitors. Now Tongariro National Park has become a real hot spot for travellers all year round as the epitome of outdoor entertainment.
Combining the qualities that make New Zealand so popular, green, fresh but unique, Tongariro is set to become one of the top must-see places in New Zealand.
Tongariro has mainly become well known due to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing which, as one of New Zealands great walks, attracts trampers the world over. However, Tongariro National Park wouldn't have experienced such a rapid rise in popularity if it weren't for all the other quirky and inspiring activities that you can do there. Whilst at the moment many visitors hop off the bus, walk the crossing, drink that well-deserved beer, sleep and get back on the bus, you can predict that in the near future visitors are going to be putting aside at least a week to delve in to the heart of New Zealand's North Island and experience the other aspects of the awesome Tongariro National Park.
Mt Ruapehu - Officially the place to ski in the North Island. Winter in Tongariro National Park is buzzing thanks to Mt Ruapehu. The perfect place to ski for beginners or the hard core advanced. It's also a pretty cool place to ski considering that it has the closest ski field to an active volcano in the world.
Whakapapa - With the 'Wh' pronounced as an 'F' this place gets a mention just for giggles but Whakapapa is actually one of the ski areas of Mt Ruapehu on the North West side of the mountain which gives skiers/snowboarders majorly good views across the North Island. The Whakapapa Happy Valley (cue more giggles) is the spot to head to for beginner skiers.
Dining out in National Park Village - So there isn't exactly a massive choice of where to go and if you stay a week you will probably exhaust all options and have the chance to go back to your favourites but it doesn't matter where you go the food is excellent. It's all about the quality here, for the same price as an adequate meal in the city you will feel like you are fine dining.
Okahune Carrot - It is as weird as it sounds and the further you delve in to the Okahune and its carrot the weirder it gets. Essentially Okahune is a town which seconds as the Southern gateway to the Tongariro National Park. You will know that you are in Okahune because you will see a giant carrot. If you like carrots then this is the place to be and if you plan your trip carefully you can arrive in Tongariro just in time for the annual carrot festival.
Fishing for Trout - If you want to fish, the Whanganui River is the place to do it, this is one of the best places in New Zealand for trout fishing. Not too bad scenery either.
Mt Doom - Why does everyone get so excited about the prospect of seeing Mt Doom in the flesh? If people were given the choice of which would you rather see, Elijah Wood (Frodo) or Mt Doom I honestly think the majority would opt for the latter. It is very cool and very impressive and also goes by the name of Mt Ngauruhoe.
Jetboating - It is a Kiwi phenomenon and completely random and overall pretty much a theme park ride on water but it's immense fun and a super cool way to see the scenery around you if you can keep your eyes open at those speeds. For adrenaline junkies you don't have to go cold turkey in Tongariro.
The Overlander - If you don't like hiking, mountain biking, jetboating, Lord of the Rings, skiing, or carrots then you may not fancy hanging around Tongariro National Park but you can still appreciate the scenery from the train. The famous Overlander that takes you from Auckland right across the North Island to Wellington stops in National Park.
Hills to bike down - Mountain biking is popular and with plenty of hills to head downwards mountain biking is available to everyone. This is a really cool way if you are not walking to experience how remote Tongariro actually is as you ride past isolated houses miles from the next one.
As winter is fast approaching (it seems to always be) I think most people are thinking of heading to Tongariro National Park to get in on some New Zealand ski/snowboard action but if you are thinking of heading to Tongariro at any time throughout the year give yourself plenty of time here. The Tongariro Crossing is always weather permitting so you need a few days just in case but with so much out there to do and take in, you will fall in love with the place after a matter of minutes.