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Tongariro National Park, New Zealand
Tongariro National Park, New Zealand (Image by lailamjimenez from Pixabay)

Tongariro National Park, New Zealand

Located in Central North Island, Tongariro National Park is New Zealand's Oldest Nature Reserve, founded in 1894. Its many visitors can testify to the power of its imposing landscape and the magnificent beauty of its natural wonders.

It boasts lush vegetation in one part, a desert like high plain in another. The waters of its sparkling, crystal clear lakes lap shores of barren lava. Snow covered volcanoes tower over it. It is no wonder the native Maori revered Tongariro as a magical sacred place. The park's three active volcanoes - Tongariro (1,968 m), Ngauruhoe (2,291 m) and Ruapehu (2,797 m) - are still an important part of Maori myths and legends.

The three volcanic mountains are located in the centre of the park. Although all three are still active in geological terms, only Ruapehu erupts frequently, the last time in 1995, when it sent forth a hail of mud, ash, steam and lava over several months. The area east of Ruapehu has been transformed into a landscape resembling the surface of the moon.

Volcanic and other tectonic activity has left much of Tongariro National Park a rough terrain dotted with unstable environments. Nevertheless, lush animal and plant life is at home in the niches. Plants in particular flourish at a variety of elevations in a range of vegetation zones. Meadow grasses, lichens and high altitude shrubs and yew trees can be found up to the snowline. The forests further down the slopes host over 50 different species of birds, including the famous kiwi bird, the emblem of New Zealand. Also found on the volcanic slopes are the park's two native mammal species both bats.

  • Area 796 square km
  • Parts of Tongariro National Park were added to the UNESCO list of World Natural and World Cultural Heritage Sites in 1991 and 1993.