TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK
The Ruapehu district is located in the central North Island, midway between Auckland and Wellington. The Desert Road section of Highway 1 is the eastern boundary and scenic Highway 4 provides access to the centre of the region.
Ruapehu's main settlements are the ski towns of National Park and Ohakune, the army town of Waiouru and the rural service centre of Taumarunui, nestled on the banks of the Whanganui and Ongarue rivers. Local knowledge and expert guides make it easy to discover the region's famous hiking trails, fishing spots, kayaking, canoeing, horse riding and mountain biking experiences.
The Ruapehu region is home to the Tongariro National Park, the Whanganui National Park and the Whanganui River. It is a four-hour drive from Auckland or Wellington and close to Waitomo Caves, Rotorua and Taupo.
The 80,000 hectares Tongariro National Park (a World Heritage Area) is the centre of attraction for this district. The active volcano Mount Ruapehu dominates the landscape, rising to 2,797 metres from the surrounding countryside. It has Mount Ngauruhoe (also active) and Mount Tongariro to keep it company. The three volcanoes are a spectacular sight on a clear day—in the colder months they are capped in snow.
Mount Ruapehu is the site of the North Island's premier ski fields—Whakapapa and Turoa. The mountain was recently chosen by movie director Peter Jackson to play Mt Doom in his 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy. In summer the surrounding volcanic desert area is a wild and beautiful place for hiking, fishing and adventure activities.
To the west of the three volcanoes lies the deep green mystery of the Whanganui National Park, which is steeped in Maori and European colonial history. The Whanganui River is the main access route to the forest clad interior—jetboats and kayaks are popular modes of transport. The small townships on the riverbanks all have fascinating stories to tell. Jerusalem was once the home of James K. Baxter, one of New Zealand's most celebrated poets and an early 'alternative lifestyler'.