Mount Ruapehu, Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Tongariro… the all enchanting and all incredible mountains that form part of Tongariro National Park.
I grew up on the North Island of New Zealand, and it is still my home to this day. Although we don’t quite have the abundance of mountains that the South Island does, we do have this very special part of New Zealand that is rich in cultural significance, powerful in its spectacular landscape, and a place where winter wonderland meets the North Island.
Peter Jackson chose to film parts of the Lord of the Rings movie series here in Tongariro National Park, and it’s no surprise why when you look at what’s on offer. Rocky landscapes, deserted hills, majestic waterfalls and not to forget those incredible mountains.
Perhaps the most famous of the scenes is where Mount Ngauruhoe was used as a stand-in for the fictional Mount Doom. This gained the mountain worldwide attention and Lord of the Rings fans come to visit this area just to see those famous scenes in the flesh. You can also find locations that were used for the Gates of Mordor, Mordor, Gollums Pool… just to name a few.
Having said that, there is so much more to this region on offer other than the incredible movie scenes.
If you are an adventure enthusiast, then this is where you need to be. If you are into snow sports and love to hit the slopes, then this is where you will find some of the best ski fields in the North Island. If you like short daywalks, bike rides and taking things at a slower pace, the region is full of easy paced activities for anyone and everyone. Whether you are an avid Lord of the Rings fan looking to retrace the movie locations, someone looking for an adventure, or a family looking for activities you can do together, I encourage you to visit this part of NZ on your next travel adventure.
I will leave you with some photos from my experience here, and hope that it might inspire you to visit too. I was not able to visit the whole region, and unfortunately most of the time I was there Mount Ruapehu was under a big cloud (!), but here is a snapshot of the places I visited and also a list of Lord of the Rings sites you can visit in New Zealand.
Accessed from the Ohakune side of Mount Ruapehu, this beautiful drive through native forest up to the Turoa Ski Field is one that should be on your to do list.
Taranaki Falls is a short 2 hour return walk from Whakapapa Village. Even in the dark its an incredible sight. I had seen many photos from this spot but the sheer scale of these falls can not be appreciated unless seen with your own eyes.
Lord of the Rings sites in NZ that you should also visit:
1# Tukino Ski Area – Tongariro National Park
2# Rangipo Desert – Tongariro National Park
3# Tawhai Falls – Tongariro National Park
4# Hobbiton – Matamata, Waikato
5# Kawarau Gorge – Queenstown
6# Mt Sunday – Canterbury
7# Putangirua Pinnacles – Wellington
8# Skippers Canyon, Queenstown
9# Twizel, Canterbury
10# Kepler Mine, Te Anau
11# Snowden Forest, Fiordland
12# Mt Victoria, Wellington
13# Waiau River, Te Anau
14# Mavora Lakes, Fiordland
15# Twelve Mile Delta, Queenstown
16# Paradise, Glenorchy
17# Mt Gunn, West Coast