Tongariro National Park – Tongariro, NZ – Tongariro National Park
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Tongariro National Park is the oldest national park in New Zealand, located in the central North Island. It has been acknowledged by UNESCO as one of the 28 mixed cultural and natural World Heritage Sites.
Tongariro National Park was the fourth national park established in the world. The active volcanic mountains Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, and Tongariro are located in the centre of the park.
There are a number of Māori religious sites within the park and the summits of Tongariro, including Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu, are tapu (sacred). The park includes many towns around its boundary including Ohakune, Waiouru, Horopito, Pokaka, Erua, National Park Village, Whakapapa skifield and Turangi.
Tongariro National Park covers approximately 795.98 km² stretching between 175° 22′ and 175° 48′ East and 38° 58′ and 39° 25′ South in the heart of the North Island of New Zealand. It is just a few kilometres west-southwest of Lake Taupo. It is 330 km south of Auckland by road, and 320 km north of Wellington. It contains a considerable part of the North Island Volcanic Plateau. Directly to the east stand the hills of the Kaimanawa range. The Whanganui River rises within the park and flows through Whanganui National Park to the west.
Most of the park is located in the Ruapehu District (Manawatu-Wanganui Region), although the northeast is in the Taupo District (Waikato Region, or Hawke’s Bay region to the north).
As a curiosity, their exact antipodes coincide with Cabañeros National Park, in Spain.
Tongariro National Park stretches around the massif of the three active volcanoes Mount Ruapehu, Mount Ngauruhoe, and Mount Tongariro. The Pihanga Scenic Reserve, containing Lake Rotopounamu, Mount Pihanga and the Kakaramea-Tihia Massif, though separate from the main park area, is still part of the national park.
On the park borders are the towns of Turangi, National Park Village and Ohakune. Further away are Waiouru and Raetihi. Within the park borders, the only settlements are the tourism-based village at Whakapapa Village which consists solely of ski accommodation. Two Maori kainga (settlements) Papakai and Otukou are not part of the park but lie on the shores of Lake Rotoaira between the Pihanga Scenic Reserve and the main park area.
The bulk of Tongariro National Park is surrounded by well-maintained roads that roughly follow the park borders and provide easy access. In the west, State Highway 4 passes National Park village, and in the east, State Highway 1, known for this stretch as the Desert Road, runs parallel to the Tongariro River. State Highway 47 joins these two highways to the north of much of the park, although it bisects the Pihanga Scenic Reserve. The southern link is State Highway 49. The North Island Main Trunk railway from Auckland to Wellington passes National Park village.
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