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Tongariro National Park is the oldest National Park in New Zealand and is located in the central North Island.
Home to three major volcanoes, Mounts Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu, this dramatic volcanic landscape was used to create the kingdom of Mordor in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Mount Ruapehu is the highest point on the North Island standing at 2,797m and is one of the most active volcanoes in New Zealand, last erupting in spectacular fashion in 1997.
A full day guided walk with Adrift Guided Outdoor Adventures provides an opportunity to experience some of the most scenic volcanically active areas of the park.
The walk starts at a gentle gradient up from the Mangatepopo Valley to Soda Springs. A steep climb takes you up to the Mangatepopo saddle between Tongariro and Ngauruhoe Mountains. You will then have arrived at the South Crater (1,650m) where you will have the opportunity of taking some great photos.
The track then climbs to Red Crater (the highest point at 1,882m) with the Otarere and Rangipo deserts in the distance, before descending to the vivid Emerald Lakes for a well earned break for lunch.
After lunch you will head to the summit of Mount Tongariro (1,967m) which gives a great view of the peaks of Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Ruapehu. You will then take the main track back to Mangatepopo over Mount Ngauruhoe's pyroclastic flows where you can enjoy sunset views of Mount Taranaki, 150km away.
For the more daring types, a 3-day Northern Circuit guided tramp is undoubtedly one of the most unique treks in New Zealand, starting on Mount Ruapehu and encircling Mount Ngauruhoe.