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. doc.govt.nz