65 Rankers Reviews
12 Tongariro / National Park Village
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A well-formed loop track with fine views of the volcanoes and the spectacular 20-m high Taranaki Falls. These pour over a lava bluff and disgorge into a scenic plunder pool. Follow the Wairere Stream to the gorge below and a forested section back to Whakapapa Village.
Taranaki falls are best after rain.
The track starts from the end of Ngauruhoe Terrace behind Chateau Tongariro. Walk the 250 metres to the road end, where the start of the loop is signposted. The walk works best by continuing straight ahead first, as you get the mountain view in full sight rather than behind you.
The metalled track has occasional ruts - impossible to avoid given the prodigious quantities of rain that can fall. But in general this track is in good nick.
It’s an undulating start through the sub alpine scrub, with hardy natives and introduced heather studding the trackside. Ngauruhoe is ahead and the turrets from the Iwikau eruption provide foreground to Ruapehu. The track weaves between streams, crossed by bridges and reaches the edge of an 15,000 year old lava flow.
At the junction with the track to Tama Lakes, follow the signpost left down the steps. Taranaki Falls come to view and the curtains of spray mystify the rock studded pool below. Benches and viewpoints guarantee a sexy photo in the punchbowl.
There’s a bridge over a gorgeous secondary fall, where the gin clear waters tumble into a smoothed wedge in the bedrock.
From here the track is mostly in the forest alongside the Wairere Stream, passing the junction with the Mangatepopo Track. It exits after a short climb out of the watershed and bypasses the village oxidation ponds back to Ngauruhoe Road, just below the track start.
Ruapehu, meaning ‘noise pit’ has been active periodically since its birth around 300,000 years ago. The stratovolcano is a composite cone, a lasagne of andesite lava and ash debris. Magama chambers are believed to be between 1 and 5 km below the surface. Eruptions around 11,000 years ago left a laval field, through which this walk passes. Taranaki Falls tumble over a bluff of resistant andesitic rock.
Mount Ruapehu (2797 m) is the highest mountain in the North Island and is the only place where glaciers still cling. With Tongariro and Ngaruhoe, they represent the main focus of volcanic activity in the country and have been erupting for around 250,000 years. This area is known as the Taupo Volcanic Zone and has been spewing forth material from the earths bowels for over 2 million years.
During Ruapehu’s construction phase it has interbedded andesite lava and ejectile fragments such as ash and tephra. The construction method sometimes causes instability and as segments collapse, large debris avalanches and lahars are spread over the surrounding area in a ring plain.
Breccia and andesite lava flows over the last 130,000 years have built the apron around the cone, spreading over 12 cubic kilometres of deposits. This raw material provides the basis for the region’s soils.
From 60-15,000 years ago, several other vents added other ingredients to the mix, including dacite and olivine basalt. From 30,000 years ago more basaltic andesite lava flows, including those named the Rangataua, were accompanied by pumice, which choked the streams and spread widely.
Around 10,000 years ago a major structural collapse sent debris avalanche through the Whakapapa catchment and the resulting deposit has hummocky mounds on its top surface. These can now be discovered on the Mounds Walk.
The most significant events in more recent times happened around 4,500-3,500 years ago, when large tracts of beech forest in the Rangipo Desert were obliterated with 34 million cubic metres of hydrothermally heated rock turning the wood to ash in an instant.
More recent eruptions have been recorded in 1861, 1895 and 1953. A lahar spilled down the southern flank and washed away the railway bridge just before the Wellington - Auckland passenger train was due. 151 people died. A lahar gauge is now installed.
Images of the 1995 ash eruptions are now commonplace in New Zealand tourist literature. Geonet keep watch and all accommodations in the area have emergency evacuation plans.
North Island ▷ Ruapehu ▷ Tongariro / National Park Village
Showing 13 reviews of 61.
A lovely walk from Whakapapa Village. I took the clockwise route and even though it was high season (27th Dec) I only met 3 other people on the way. There were more people at the falls themselves who had taken the anti clockwise route.
The walk takes in lots of different landscapes and the falls themselves are spectacular. It is possible to walk behind the falls if you wish to. It took around 1.5 hours. Definitely worth doing!
Even though we went on a misty day the walk was amazing. Beautiful waterfalls, cool alpine vegetation and volcanic landscapes. Perfect for a shorter walk (about 2 hours) in Tongariro.
Little up and down walk through forest to the waterfall. Especially for kids, beautiful scenery and an easy walk.
Two hours loop through forest and open landscape - there must be spectacular views to the mountains. We did not see anything since it was a very cloudy day.
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A beautiful walk with different landscapes. It is a loop track, where you use the lower and upper walkway. Approximately two hours. Nice waterfall.
Very nice little walk with wee Levia (9 months) in the backpack, we were happy with this alternative to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing (next time!).
It is a beautiful walk for two hours. You can also swim in the pool under the waterfall. Only thing which is not good, is too many people.
Beautiful walk to the waterfalls, especially with good weather. You could even take a bath at the waterfall.
Easy loop track near the Tongariro visitor centre to some cool falls and near a river, though most of the trip is less interesting. Convenient track for stretching your legs, but not a destination in itself.
Beautiful waterfall, the trail to the falls leads you through Baumfarne, if you do it as part of Tama Lakes it is worth visiting.
Super nice walk. Well signed!
Nice walk beside the river, at halfway a beautiful waterfall.
Really nice walk! A little short but the falls are good. Take something to cover your ears if you take the high road.
Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍