Ruapehu, New Zealand
You can't escape the gaze of the huge volcanoes that mark the heart of this astonishing landscape. Explore the wild scenery on foot, on skis or from the roaring rapids of a river.
The Ruapehu district is located in the central North Island, midway between Auckland and Wellington, with Highways 1 and 4 through the region providing equally good access and forming the western and eastern boundaries. The connecting Highways 47 and 49 provide the northern and southern boundaries respectively.
As of June 2005, Ruapehu's estimated population was 13,150.
The 80,000 hectare Tongariro National Park (World Heritage Area) makes up most of this region, with its centrepiece Mount Ruapehu (2,797 metres) rising dramatically from the surrounding countryside.
Mt Ruapehu is still very much an active volcano that every year or so puts on a magnificent pyrotechnic display of a mini eruption. It is also the site of the North Island's premier ski fields at Whakapapa and Turoa, which have world class facilities.
Alongside Mount Ruapehu are two smaller volcanic mountains: Mount Ngauruhoe (also active) and Mount Tongariro.
Main Attractions and Activities
In summer there are a number of trails to explore, with one of the best known being the Tongariro Crossing, a full day hike. These hikes provide opportunities to experience some of the most active volcanic areas, as well as moonscape craters, lush native forest, lava formations, glaciers and pristine streams and lakes.
High-energy pursuits include ice and rock climbing, abseiling and mountaineering. There is also rafting, canoeing, trout fishing, horse trekking, golfing and farm bike tours.
Two of New Zealand's biggest and most developed ski areas are both based on Mount Ruapehu--just four hours drive from Auckland or Wellington.
Near the junction of Highways 1 and 49, the Waiouru Army Museum tells the stories of New Zealanders at war.
An attraction of special interest to railway buffs is the Raurimu Spiral, an internationally recognized engineering achievement built to negotiate a 215 metre escarpment on the North Island Main Trunk Railway. Railway enthusiasts come from all over the world to ride this section of track, either on scheduled services or on regular vintage steam train excursions.
- Hiking Tongariro National Park
- Railway Spiral, Raurimu
- Skiing and snowboarding in winter
- Army Museum
- Ohakune - main service and apres-ski centre for region
- Taumarunui - largest town and the region's main service centre