The North Island Volcanic Plateau (often called the Central Plateau and occasionally the Waimarino Plateau) is a volcanic plateau covering much of central North Island of New Zealand with volcanoes, lava plateaus, and crater lakes.The entire area is above 300 metres, with a considerable proportion of it more than 800 metres above sea level. The plateau has a mild climate although the temperature regularly falls below freezing in winter and snow can fall between March and October.The period of maximum snow is July to September. Sudden blizzard conditions can be experienced on the volcanoes in winter. These blizzards have killed climbers as recently as the 1980s.The Desert Road on State Highway 1 is often closed by snow in winter for brief periods.
The natural vegetation of the area includes the podocarp conifers including rimu (Dacrydium cupressinum), miro (Prumnopitys ferruginea), matai (Prumnopitys taxifolia), totara (Podocarpus totara) and kahikatea (Dacrycarpus dacrydioides) and hardwoods that once covered this whole area before the eruption of Taupo and other volcanoes.The northern side of the plateau especially is home to wildlife including birds such as the North Island kokako wattlebird (Callaeas cinerea wilsoni), New Zealand Kaka, and large populations of brown kiwi (Apteryx australis) and blue duck (Hymenolaimus malacorhynchos). The area to the south of the plateau and down to Wellington is home to a variety of lizards including Whitaker's skink (Cyclodina whitakeri), forest gecko (Hoplodactylus granulatus) and Wellington green gecko (Naultinus elegens punctatus).