Tongariro National Park

Tongariro National Park is the oldest park in New Zealand and fourth oldest in the world. There are three active volcanoes: Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu. Ngauruhoe has the most classical "volcano looking" cone and was featured as Mount Doom (where the ring was forged) in the Lord of the Rings. A lot of Mordor was shot in the area.

Even though I'm a computer geek I'm not a fan of Lord of the Rings, but I am a fan of nice mountains so Ngauruhoe really impressed me. You can see it at various points on the road up to Whakapapa village, the main village in the park. The whole area is pretty bleak and windswept with just a smattering of hardy plants, like most volcanic areas, a type of landscape I love. Forests and jungles are good for a while, but I prefer deserts and tundras where you can see for miles.

We continued past the village to the end of the road, and the skiing centre. A short walk from the carpark there takes you to some great views of Ngauruhoe. There was a dusting of snow so we managed to make the world's smallest snowman.

Headed down for another walk to see a small waterfall. Then, instead of the campsite in the village (no great views from there) we went to the one on the main road.

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