The first national park created in New Zealand, Tongariro is inarguably one of the North Island's most adventurous parks and the site of some of Lord of the Rings' fabled Mordor vistas. Due to its inland location and high elevations, the activities on tap mirror the type of circumstances you'd see in southern New Zealand, with a wealth of mountains to climb, tracks to trek, and slopes to ski and bike. What sets Tongariro apart, though, are the volcanoes.
Yeah, we said volcanoes. Mount Raupehu is one of the most active on Earth, while Mount Ngauruhoe sums up our fearsome mental picture of volcano, and Tongariro itself has a number of active craters, the last of which went off in 2012. But don't be scared; the intrigue of the area is in its volcanic elements and there is plenty of forewarning to travelers if there is even a possibility of an eruption. Mount Raupehu is known for its three ski fields, Whakapapa and Turoa being the much larger two and Tukino serving as a smaller alternative. Novices to professionals will all find their needs met here.
The day-long hike to Raupehu's crater is stupendous, although needs high endurance and, if attempting in winter, climbing equipment. It also may be best to travel with a guide due to the lack of signage. Mount Tongariro is the site of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which will bring you in touch with the full range of volcanic terrain and the well-name Emerald Lakes in the span of a day, while the Northern Circuit that skirts both Tongariro and Ngauruhoe is a 3-day, 43 km (27 mile) journey that touches on all of the park's visual highlights. A direct hike up the 2,287 meter (7,503 foot) Ngauruhoe to its gaseous crater can also be managed in a day. If you're looking for more hikes, there are plenty from the main park entrance at Whakapapa Village or available on the park website.
Another activity of note is mountain biking in the summer season. You'll encounter an easy gradient at Ohakune Old Coach Road, while a handful of other local routes can be found here. For more information what to do and how to prepare yourself for a safe and exciting adventure in Tongariro National Park, browse our included websites.