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Tongariro National Park

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The Tongariro National Park was the first National Park in the World to receive the title of "Patrimony of the Humanity". It was well done because this park is one of the most amazing parks you can visit in your life. Imagine a plateau where 3 active volcanoes are aligned in a strait line, not too far from the other and reaching almost 3000 metres hight (around 9000 feet). There, the impressed tourist for sure will surrender to the beauty and the forces of mother nature. To complement this spectacle, the volcanic activity changes very often the way you will see the park according to the season of the year. Below, are the details of these transformations that makes Tongariro National Park a must visit place in New Zealand, if you are a nature lover... 

MT. Ruapehu (photo) is the highest mountain in the park. It is an very active volcano 2797 metres high. Since 1945, Mt. Ruapehu has erupted nothing less than 60 times, some eruptions with serious consequences. In July 1953, a strong eruption sparked a avalanche of ashes, mud, debris and rocks called Lahas, (Like fresh cement mix) that destroyed a bridge nearby. It was 24 of December and the Wellington - Auckland express train was packed with passenger going to spend Christmas with their families and relatives. The train conductor didn't knew that the bridge was washed out and when he took notice, it was too late to stop. The train dove in the river killing its 151 passengers. it was the worst disaster New Zealand ever had. On the top of Mt. Ruapehu, a small crater filled with green water is waiting for the next eruption but for a while it is quiet and can be visited with a guide. The other two volcanoes are the Mt.Ngauruhoe (2291 m.) is the youngest of all with a perfect round cone. Mt.Tongariro, (1968 m.) is the smallest and oldest of the group, whit intense thermal activity but without significant eruptions.

Whakapapa e Turoa, are the biggest sky field in New Zealand, both located on Mt. Ruapehu (The other 2 volcanoes are not proper for snow skiing - one is too steep and the other too low). Wakapapa is the biggest ski field handling 35,000 skiers per hour. Turoa Sky field has a different access and has the largest and steepest continuous drop in New Zealand reaching 700 metres in length. Both sky field have tracks for all levels of experience. From beginners to pros, there is a place for everyone. The parks open from 9 am to 4 pm during the months of June , July and August depending of the snow fall of the season ( they have snow making machines anyway). Also, both sky fields have a range of facilities such as equipment rental, restaurants and cafes.

How much to snow ski: ( rentals average - can be more or less)

Skis/Boots/Poles NZ$ 24
Carving Skis & Boots NZ$ 28
Snow Boards & Boots NZ$ 40
Clothing per day per set NZ$ 18 
Chairlift  NZ$ 18 

 Tongariro National Park in the Sumer

  During summer time the area is famous for the trail and trekking available. The landscape becomes so Lunar that was used to shoot some scenes of the movie " The Lord of The Ring". Despite the fact the photo above can explain why this place is so fantastic, we will try to explain what is going on over there... There are two main tracks, just like a cross. The first one consist of crossing the park in its width (east-west). It take between 6 to 8 hours to complete the crossing and it is considered the best day walk in New Zealand. The trail is 3 metres wide, very well signed and passing by many lakes that in reality are craters. Fumaroles or fissures that expels vapours and steam can be found in many areas and is advisable to keep away from them (danger of serious burns). The second track, goes from North to South and can be made between 4 or 6 days depending of the fitness and hurry of the walker. There are no fast food shops over there, so you'd better take water, food and a first aid kit with you. Indeed, there are 2 toilets and shelters along the way. It is a must not to forget that it is an alpine region, so, it is fundamental to take war cloth with you because even during summer time the temperature can be of 0º C. or 32º F. Also, don't forget to wear a good pair of boots due the hash terrain, and the part we consider the most important of all, is to check and re-check what to expect about the weather before you go.

Another option in Summer  and if you are not ready to walk long distances is take it easy from the Whakapapa Ski Field, and go up using the chairlift to the restaurant near the top of Mt. Ruapehu. The restaurant is the highest in new Zealand (2020 mts) and the view in a clear day is really breath taking

Curiosity

Kea is a bird that inhabit some alpine parts of New Zealand. It seems that its only finality in life, is to eat rubber parts from cars parked nearby. They have a preference for ski field parking lots and don't distinguish between visitors, rented, or local cars.

Distances from Tongariro National Park to:

Auckland 349 Km 6 Hours
Taupo 144 Km 2 Hours
Rotorua 226 Km 3 Hours
Hamilton 222 Km 3 Hours & 20 min
Wellington 300 Km 3 Hours & 40 min.

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