- The New Zealand Department of Conservation claims,"All roads lead to Tongariro." Reach the park from State Highway 1, or utilize regular bus services to the park's main access points from the nearby townships of Turangi, Ohakune and National Park. Additionally, Whakapapa village rests inside park boundaries. Daily flights depart from Taupo, the hub of the central plateau, and several shuttle companies provide transport in and out of the park.
Facilities and Fees
- DOC maintains three campgrounds in Tongariro. The Mangahuia Campground, located 6 km south of National Park, offers 17 tent sites which cost $4NZ per adult (18 and older) per night as of 2010. This "standard" grade campground offers tap water, toilets, trash bins and a cooking shelter. The Ohakune to Mangawhero Campground, 2 km from National Park, offers 20 tent sites for the same price. Both standard campgrounds operate on a first-come first-served basis. Finally, the Whakapapa Motorcamp, adjacent to the Whakapapa Visitor Center, provides 44 "serviced" sites with upgraded facilities including flush toilets, hot showers and electric stoves plus eight tent sites. Book serviced sites in advance at any DOC Visitor Center. Youth under age 18 receive 25 to 50 percent discounts.
For the multiday hiker, DOC maintains a series of backcountry huts. Book in advance via the DOC website. Note that Backcountry Hut Passes are not valid for campsites.
- Three active volcanoes, Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro, supply a dramatic backdrop to this extremely diverse landscape. Otherworldly lava flows fade into high-elevation alpine scrub, which in turn descends into lush podocarp forests while natural hot springs pepper the winter snowfields.
- Billed as "the best one-day walk in New Zealand" by "Lonely Planet", the Tongariro Alpine Crossing traverses Mt. Tongariro and Mt. Ngauruhoe, which "Lord of the Rings" fans will recognize as Mt. Doom. Give yourself six to eight hours to complete this 19.4 km trek. Rest assured, easier tracks abound in the park; stop by the Visitor Center for maps of the trails. In winter, skiers can carve up the country's largest ski field, accessible from Whakapapa.
- Tongariro is an alpine zone where weather changes quickly. Be prepared for all weather conditions with waterproof outerwear and many layers. Winter-season campers will need specialized mountaineering equipment and should heed avalanche warnings throughout the park. Rent gear from outdoor retailers in Ohakune, National Park or Whakapapa.
According to "Lonely Planet", New Zealand is free from noxious fauna, but keep food secured from possums and keas. Bicycles are allowed within designated areas only. Powered personal watercrafts are banned.