Lake Taupo Tongariro National Park New Zealand

Lake Taupo is New Zealandís largest lake, with an area of 600 sq kilometres. The origins of the Lake date back to 186 AD when a massive eruption blasted 100 cubic kilometres of debris into the air (compare with Mt St. Helens at 1cu km, and Krakatoa at 18cu km). These subterranean forces are still simmering today and can be seen breaking through the earths crust at nearby thermal reserves such as the Craters of the Moon and at Whakarewarewa where there is a geo thermal power generation complex.

Taupo is famous for its trout fishing where up to 400 tonnes a year is caught, at an average fish weight of 1.5 kg. Trout are bred at the Tongariro National Trout Hatchery just south of Lake Taupo for release into New Zealand Lakes and also for export to California. At the Huka Falls the mighty Waikato River flows out of the Lake to start its 354km journey to the sea.

Tongariro National Park

The first National Park to be established in New Zealand, and the fourth in the world, the park also holds World Heritage area status. Maori had significant spiritual ties with the mountains which contributed to its recognition as a conservation area.

Mt Tongariro stands at 1,967m and consists of a group of extinct volcanic cones, the lava streams of which have so overlapped in their descent that they have formed one mountain mass at their base. From the Taupo Road, steam can be seen rising from the Ketetahi Hot Springs on northern slope of the mountain.

The crater of Mt Ngauruhoe (2,287m) is still active, steam and vapour at times issuing from it with considerable force and noise. Its last major eruption was in 1954, when a series of ash explosions culminated in a massive outflow of lava down the western face, with molten lava being hurled more than 300 metres into the air.

The snow-capped peak of Mt Ruapehu (2,797m) is an easily recognised landmark. The mountainís apparent tranquility is misleading, for Ruapehu is also an active volcano and has a simmering crater lake whose rising level produced a lahar in March 2007. This event was long anticipated by those monitoring the lake levels.

There are a number of walks in the National Park of varying lengths including the renowned Tongariro Crossing. A traverse of Mount Tongariro that requires a good level of fitness, sturdy footwear, some food and water, additional clothing to allow for any unexpected changes in weather conditions and pre arranged transport for this 7-8 hour trek (one way).