Tongariro National Park (World Heritage)

Tongariro National Park (World Heritage)

Tongariro National Park (World Heritage), the national park in the center of the North Island is one of the oldest parks in the world. Visit for New Zealand chin nature and film scenery.

It was established in 1894 in an area that Te Heuheu Tukino IV (Horonuku), the chief of the Ngati Tuwharetoa, had given to the New Zealand nation in 1887 on behalf of his tribe. The 796 km² protected area with the three active volcanoes Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu is not only a habitat for many rare animal species, but also a place of special spiritual importance for the Māori.

Tongariro National Park: facts

Official title: Tongariro National Park
Cultural and natural monument: on September 23, 1887 26.3 km² of land as a gift from Te Heuheu Tukino (Ngati Tuwharetoa) to the New Zealand nation, established in 1894 as New Zealand’s first national park, total area 795.96 km²; at the end of a 2500 km long chain of volcanoes; in the park the volcanoes Kakaramea, Tihia and Pihanga, which have not been active for more than 20,000 years, as well as the active volcanoes Tongariro (1968 m), Ngauruhoe (2290 m) and Ruapehu (2797 m), larger eruptions of Ruapehu with lahar (mud flow) and Ash rain in 1969, 1975, 1995-96, 2007 combined with the discharge of a mudslide from the crater lake; after 115 years, the Tongariro volcano erupted again in 2012 at Te Māri Crater
Continent: Australia / Oceania
Country: New Zealand
Location: south of Turangi, northeast of Wellington, in the middle of the North Island
Appointment: 1990, expanded 1993
Meaning: Meaning: an ecosystem that is very worthy of protection with active and inactive volcanoes; a place of special spirituality for the Maori
Flora and fauna: Occurrence of stone slices such as Podocarpus hallii, but also orchids and ferns; in higher elevations, pseudo beech forest with New Zealand red and silver beech as well as southern black beech, also myrtle family such as Leptospermum ericoides, but also Inaka, the New Zealand counterpart to the European heather family; Mammals such as New Zealand bat; 56 species of birds such as cocoa and striped kiwi; Endangerment of native animal species by introduced martens, cats, red deer and possums

Land of unrest

Snow-covered flanks of mountain cones that rise above the land – this is how thousands of skiers experience Ruapehu when they visit it. Only rarely, at intervals of decades, can one witness its dramatic outbreak when it spews ash and mud over the wintry landscape. But even the apparent breaks are full of simmering unrest beneath the surface. Even without the spectacular theatrical thunder of an outbreak, the country is constantly shaken, heats up inside and just waits to be discharged with a bang. Because the country lies on the “shifting edge” of the Indo-Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, whose tectonic friction forces do not allow the earth to come to rest.

After the snow melts, the landscape is again bathed in anthracite, burgundy red and dark purple, colors that are broken up here and there by green islands. Serrated, mouse-gray and umber-colored tips tower into the sky, white clouds rise and give off the smell of rotten eggs. Hot, mineral-rich water penetrates the surface from crevices in the earth, where it turns yellow, gray, violet and dark red: the play of colors of arsenic trisulfate and iron sulfate, which “rise” from the interior of the earth. The hissing and bubbling sound from the steam holes is caught in the wind, which brushes over the long, yellow-orange-colored “tufts of hair” of the tussock. Often one sees tired hikers resting in the hot springs of Ketetahi. On small rivers, false beeches have countless ash showers, Mudslides and fire survived, and a steady stream of water runs over white sintered terraces. Again and again the view glides over sharp-edged tuff up to the crimson and blackberry-colored flanks of the Red Crater. The emerald blue of Emerald Lake stands out from the dark gray and brown-violet of the rock. But the shades of color of nature and its eternally rumbling undertone do not only make the magic of the country, it is rather its history that fascinates the Maori in the place: high above the central land of the North Island, so the New Zealand natives tell each other, were once enthroned several mountains, deities from ancient times. Tongariro, the highest of the gods, lived next to Ngauruhoe, Ruapehu, and Taranaki, and not far from them stood the lovely maiden Pihanga. With her cloak of deep green scrub, which she had wrapped tightly around her delicate shoulders, the Virgin was of extraordinary beauty, and all the mountain deities had fallen in love with her. But she chose the white-haired Tongariro as her lover.

This peaceful coexistence of the deities disturbed Taranaki, who no longer wanted to hide his feelings for Pihanga. He pursued her, kept making motions to her, and finally pressed her furiously. So a loud argument broke out between Taranaki and Tongariro, which shook the earth. All the other mountains now also let their anger and resentment run free, spat fire and darkened the sky with their ashes.

When the thunderstorm of the mountain gods had finally died down and peace and quiet returned, Tongariro was close to Pihanga’s side, even if he had lost something of his majestic size. Taranaki, on the other hand, had released himself from his position with a violent jerk in wild desperation and anger. He left his ancestral home and pushed furiously towards the setting sun. When he reached the sea, he turned north, finally finding his own realm as a mountain deity where the sun disappears behind the horizon.

His path of grief had left deep marks. A stream of clear water formed on Tongariro’s flanks, healing the wounds Taranaki had torn. Evergreen forests, filled with the singing of birds, grew on the banks of the newly formed river now known as the Wanganui River.

Tongariro National Park (World Heritage)