The information below is provided by the New Zealand Department of Conservation. Since we are great walkers and love the opportunity to get around on 2 feet we include here a selection of short walks which will stretch out your legs if you are in the area. Take a look at our New Zealand self drive tour “Essential Middle Earth” to find out how you can include these walks on a self drive tour of New Zealand.
Please check with the Department of Conservation information centre for weather conditions, track suitability and conditions first.
Whakapapa Nature Walk Time: 15 min loop track
Beginning 250 m above Whakapapa Visitor Centre, this sealed loop track provides wheelchair access for a glimpse of the unique flora of Tongariro National Park. A series of on-site information panels explain the various zones of vegetation in the park.
Mounds Walk Time: 20 min one way
Begins 5 km below Whakapapa Visitor Centre on SH 48. Debris avalanches during Ruapehu’s periods of volcanic activity are believed to have formed these mounds thousands of years ago. Follow this interpretive walk and learn more about the mounds. The top of the track offers good views of the park’s volcanoes and surrounding area.
Tawhai Falls Time: 20 min one way
Begins 4 km below Whakapapa Visitor Centre on SH 48. The falls, which tumble over the edge of an ancient lava flow, are reached after a short stroll through mountain toatoa and beech forest.
Ridge Track Time: 30 – 40 min return
Begins 150 metres above Whakapapa Visitor Centre. After a short climb through low beech forest, the track emerges into alpine shrublands with panoramic views of Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and the surrounding landscape. Return via same track.
Taranaki Falls Time: 2 hr loop track
Begins 100 metres below Whakapapa Visitor Centre at Ngauruhoe Place.Tumbling 20 metres over the edge of a large lava flow, which erupted from Ruapehu 15,000 years ago, Taranaki Falls plunge into a boulder-ringed pool. From below the falls there are spectacular views into the water-worn gorges of the Wairere Stream.
Whakapapanui Walk Time: 2 hr
Begins 250 metres above Whakapapa Visitor Centre.Take care not to confuse the Whakapapanui and Whakapapaiti track signs. About 10-15 minutes along the track, the Whakapapanui walk branches to the right and heads down stream. Water-logged clearings are passed as the track follows the Whakapapanui Stream. Here, beech forest affected by die-back and storm damage is slowly regenerating. 6 km return via same track or Bruce Road.
Silica Rapids Time: 2.5 hr
Begins 250 metres above Whakapapa Visitor Centre. Through mountain beech forest, the track travels alongside a cascading stream, arriving at the creamy-white terraces of Silica Rapids. Subalpine plants, amid a mixture of swamp and tussock country, feature around the track as it returns to the Bruce Road 2.5 km above the starting point. This highly varied walk reveals a range of vegetation types and also has spectacular views of Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe on a clear day. 7 km return via Bruce Road.
Tama Lakes Time: 5 – 6 hr
Begin 100 metres below Whakapapa Visitor Centre at Ngauruhoe Place – an extension of the Taranaki Falls track. After leaving the Taranaki Falls Walk, the track crosses undulating tussock country and alpine herbfields. Further on, the track branches to the left to Tama Lakes, while the main track continues on to Waihohonu Hut. There is an overview of the lower lake (1200 metres), and then the track climbs steeply to the upper lake (1314 metres). Tama Lakes occupy several old explosion craters on the Tama Saddle between Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe. There are no formed tracks and the descent to both lakes is via steep gullies. Tama Saddle acts as a funnel for prevailing westerly winds. Windproof clothing is recommended in this area. 17 km, return via same track.
Ohinetonga Track Time: 2 – 3 hr loop track
35 km from Whakapapa village. Turn right onto SH 4 at National Park. Turn right at Owhango. The track winds through forest containing a variety of attractive scenery, the Ohinetonga Lagoon and some excellent examples of native trees. There are picnic areas and good places to swim along the river.
Taurewa Track Time: 2 – 3 hr loop track
17 km from Whakapapa village. Take SH 47 north and turn left at John McDonald Road. Turn right at the intersection with Pukehinau Road, look for the Taurewa Track sign. The track starts on the edge of Tongariro Forest and follows old milling trails through the bush. The area is home to a wide variety of bird life.
Okupata Caves (25 km from Whakapapa village.)
Turn off SH 47 onto John McDonald Road. Turn left at the intersection with Pukehinau Road, continue to caves. A natural and unmarked network of underground passages in Tongariro Forest. Only enter the caves with people who know them well as it is easy to get lost. Heavy rainfall may result in rising water levels in the caves, which may cause them to flood.
Tupapakurua Falls Track Time: 4 – 5 hr return to Tupapakurua Falls Lookout
Tupapakurua Falls plummet to the valley floor in splendid isolation, amidst a forest of regenerating podocarps. From the start of Fishers Road walk approximately 30 minutes to the entrance to Tupapakurua Falls track (on the left hand side of Fishers Road). This old Forest Service track has been recently upgraded by the local community in partnership with DOC. It begins with an easy 20 minute walk to the Taranaki Lookout with a view towards Mt Taranaki. From this point the track becomes a back country adventure track and is suitable for experienced trampers only. The track follows a ridge and then descends steeply down to a stream. There is a wonderful diversity of plant and tree species with good stands of tawa, mature rimu, miro and totara. Ascending from the stream, the track winds its way around bluffs with beautiful forest views and good lookout points to the Falls. Return via the same track.
Remember to take enough water, waterproofs, sunhat and sun factor. There’s nothing worse than having your hike hurried or stressed because of lack of preparation.