Established in 1887, Tongariro was the first national park in New Zealand and the fourth in the World. It is also a dual World Heritage area, a status which recognises the park's important Maori cultural and spiritual associations as well as its outstanding volcanic features. It is a place of extremes and surprises, a place to explore and remember. From herb fields to forests, from tranquil lakes to desert-like plateau and active volcanoes - Tongariro has them all.
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.
There are 56 significant species of birds, such as rare endemic species like the North Island brown kiwi, kākā, blue duck, North Island fernbird (Bowdleria punctata vealeae), double-banded plover (Charadrius bicinctus) and karearea. Other bird species common to the park are tui, New Zealand bellbird, southern boobook, grey warbler (Gerygone igata), fantail, and silvereye. The park also features the only two native mammals of New Zealand, the short and long tailed bat (Mystacina tuberculata and Chalinolobus tuberculatus). The Tongariro National Park also teems with insects like moths and wetas. Also present in the park, as well as the whole of New Zealand, are animals introduced by Europeans, such as black rats, stoats, cats, rabbits, hare, possums and red deer.
The main activities in the park are are hiking and climbing in summer, and skiing and snowboarding in winter. There is also opportunity for hunting, game fishing, mountain biking, horse riding, rafting and scenic flights.
Tongariro National Park is located in the central North Island of New Zealand. It is the closest national park to Auckland, New Zealands largest city, and is very accessible from State Highway 1. The nearest towns are Turangi, National Park and Ohakune.