The famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing tracks over the volcanic massif of Mt Tongariro.

 

Tongariro National Park  web

The Tongariro National Park is the home to the three mountains of Ruapehu, the largest mountain in the north island, Ngauruhoe the youngest volcano and Tongariro whose landscape has developed over the last 300,000 years. The world famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a 19km hike over Mt Tongariro, taking you from herb fields to forest with tranquil lakes, track information, accommodation, shuttles, supplies are all available in National Park Village.

People come from all around the world to do the Tongariro Crossing, but there are many other wonderful walks from 10 minutes to 6 hours which are just as outstanding, some may even say better! The Skyline, Crater Lake and meads wall are all spectacular hikes starting high up at the Whakapapa ski field on Mt Ruapehu, the highest Mountain in the north island. There are the summit trips to Mt Tongariro, Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngauruhoe (Mt Doom from the Lord of the rings).

Tongariro National Park is an exciting adventure playground for hiking, biking, rafting, skiing, a place of extremes, a place you can explore from National Park Village.

Below is a great video taken in the Tongariro National Park

The Volcanic Plateau

One of the biggest volcanic eruptions which occurred in the last 5,000 years took place from the Taupo Volcanic Centre. This eruption, about 1,800 years ago, ejected pumice to heights of 30 miles up (50km), and sent volcanic material travelling outward at a speed of 370 mph (600km per hour). It levelled forests, incinerating and burying everything within a 50 mile (80 km) radius from Taupo. This area is known as the Volcanic Plateau and includes The Tongariro National Park. It is considered a plateau, not a plain, because of its high level above the sea

This plateau is New Zealand’s main area of volcanic activity. In this zone, the Pacific tectonic plate is sinking beneath the Australian Plate. At a certain depth its rocks heat and produce volcanic activity, which erupts at the surface in minor ways, with steam vents, mud pools and hot springs, and major ways with volcanic eruptions, collapsing mountains and lake formation. It is a very interesting area to explore on foot.

The volcanoes at the southern end of Lake Taupo, Tongariro (1,967 metres), Ngāuruhoe (2,291 metres) and Ruapehu (2,797 metres), are the three highest summits in the North Island. To the west of the volcanoes, the land is rough forested hill country, and the north, close to Lake Taupo, is fertile and undulating. To the east, the barren, ash-laden soils and harsh alpine climate is capable of only growing scrubby plants. This area is known as the Rangipo Desert. Beyond the eastern boundary of the plateau lies the rough hill country in the Kaimanawa Ranges. An interesting day trip in the car is around the volcanic loop. Tongariro National Park

The Lord of the Rings locales; Mordor the strong hold of the dark lord Sauron

volcanic 1Mordor is a great volcanic plateau filled with geologic wonders known as Gorgoroth. Much of Frodo and Sam’s journey into the land of Sauron was filmed on and around the Volcanic Plateau in the Tongariro National Park. The jagged volcanic rock formations and eerie barren landscapes were ideally suited to Mordor’s hissing wasteland. The maze of razorsharp rocks, cliffs and ravines of the Emyn Muil is located behind Aorangi Lodge up the Bruce road on Mt Ruapehu.

Special care was taken when filming in all sensitive ecological areas and many acres of carpet were laid out for the Orcs and Elves to walk on, protecting the ground underneath. Many extras were used on the Volcanic Plateau shoots, including the New Zealand Army used in the Orc army scenes filmed on location in the Rangipo desert. Guided tours available.

Mt Ngauruhoe was digitally altered to make it appear as Mount Doom. Climbers can trek to the summit of Mt Ngauruhoe a poled route leads from Mangatepopo road end (this can also be done part of the Tongariro Crossing if you really want to immerse yourself in Mordor). 

volcanic mangawheroAt the saddle between Ngauruhoe and Tongariro the route is not marked but the climb up the old lava flow. (Be aware of the falling rocks dislodged by other climbers).
Avoid entering the inner crater area, where volcanic fumaroles may emit overpowering gases. Descend via the red scoria, then on the loose scree to either side of the ridge. The climb should not be undertaken in winter without mountaineering experience and equipment. Icy slopes can make this climb extremely hazardous.

Mangawhero Falls

Ithilien camp was filmed near the Mangawhero Falls. Travel south to Turoa Mountain Road. The track begins from a car park on the Ohakune Mountain Road, 13 kilometers past the DOC visitor centre. This is a lovely 5 to 10 minute return walk to a beautiful waterfall. Not far below the bush line, the beech forest is stunted because of the rugged climate. Spectacular icicles form around the falls in winter.

Trailer for the movie the Hobbitt