The Insider's Guide to New Zealand - - NORTH ISLAND -

The Ton­gariro Alpine Cross­ing has star billing in the Ruapehu re­gion. Those who com­plete it are suit­ably awe-struck. It starts from Man­gatepopo and winds through a moon­scape, punc­tu­ated by pounamu-coloured crater lakes. The 19.4-kilo­me­tre track is stren­u­ous and needs to be ap­proached with re­spect – and in fine weather. It takes about eight hours to com­plete.

The walk around Lake Ro­to­pounamu (Green­stone Lake), 10 min­utes south of Tu­rangi, is six kilo­me­tres and takes a cou­ple of hours, ex­clud­ing pic­nic and swim­ming stops. The lake, formed in a crater on the western side of Mt Pi­hanga, is nine me­tres deep and one kilo­me­tre wide. It is sur­rounded by bush and in­cludes won­der­ful stands of matai and beech trees. The walk is suitable for all ages. Walk­ers can help pre­serve this peace­ful sanc­tum by sup­port­ing the Adopt a Hectare Project, which is bring­ing back the bird­song.

The Ton­gariro River Trail in

Tu­rangi fol­lows the river through scrub and low forest, cross­ing into wet­land across a board­walk where there are na­tive rushes, ferns and flaxes. Here, you can (qui­etly) watch an­glers in places like Cat­tle Rustler’s Pool, Silly Pool, Never Fall Pool and DOC­tor’s Pool. Many cy­cle trails also make good treks, in­clud­ing the Old Coach Road (see Cy­cle the trails page 6). Most of the trails are main­tained by DOC and lo­cal vol­un­teers.

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