Exploring Ruapehu : Why you need to visit Lord of the Rings Country
Updated: Mar 16
Mount Ruapehu, Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Tongariro .. the all enchanting and all incredible mountains that form part of Tongariro National Park.
I grew up on the North Island of New Zealand, and it is still my home to this day. Although we don’t quite have the abundance of mountains that the South Island does, we do have this very special part of New Zealand that is rich in cultural significance, powerful in its spectacular landscape, and a place where winter wonderland meets the North Island.
Peter Jackson chose to film parts of the Lord of the Rings movie series here in the Ruapehu district, and it’s no surprise why when you look at what’s on offer. Rocky landscapes, deserted hills, majestic waterfalls and not to forget those incredible mountains.
Perhaps the most famous of the scenes is where Mount Ngauruhoe was used as a stand-in for the fictional Mount Doom. This gained the mountain worldwide attention and Lord of the Rings fans come to visit this area just to see those famous scenes in the flesh. You can also find locations that were used for the Gates of Mordor, Mordor, Gollums Pool .. just to name a few.
Having said that, there is so much more to this region on offer other than the incredible movie scenes.
If you are an adventure enthusiast, then this is where you need to be. If you are into snow sports and love to hit the slopes, then this is where you will find some of the best ski fields in the North Island. If you like short daywalks, bike rides and taking things at a slower pace, the region is full of easy paced activities for anyone and everyone. Whether you are someone looking for an adventure, or a family looking for activities you can do together, this place has it covered.
The people are lovely, the food is great and if you happen to be a photographer or anyone who appreciates stunning scenes, you are winning by coming here!
Having not spent a lot of time here in recent years it was great to come back with @visitruapehu and see familiar sights with much more appreciation and perhaps a different eye. To me one of the greatest things about photography is it forces you to study your surroundings in depth and allows you those moments to really take in a scene and appreciate nature. Ruapehu is the perfect area to do this and I am thankful to have such an incredible natural wonderland so close to home.
I will leave you with some photos from my experience here, and hope that it might inspire you to visit too. I was not able to visit the whole region, and unfortunately most of the time I was there Mount Ruapehu was under a big cloud (!), but here is a snapshot of the places I visited and some of the fun we got up to.
SUNSET ON THE ROAD TO NGAURUHOE
TARANAKI FALLS UNDER THE MILKYWAY - MT RUAPEHU
Taranaki Falls is a short 2 hour return walk from Whakapapa Village. Even in the dark its an incredible sight. I had seen many photos from this spot but the sheer scale of these falls can not be appreciated unless seen with your own eyes.
THE ROAD TO TUROA SKI FIELD
Accessed from the Ohakune side of Mount Ruapehu, this beautiful drive through native forest up to the Turoa Ski Field is one that should be on your to do list. We had all four seasons in one day on this drive .. by the time we got up to the ski field it was hailing and freezing cold .. gotta love mountains !
MT NGAURUHOE AS SEEN FROM BRUCE ROAD - WHAKAPAPA
STAY AT THE CHATEAU TONGARIRO
Located at the base of Mount Ruapehu in Whakapapa Village, this hotel provides accommodation and a range of amazing restaurants and bars all central to the fantastic activities on offer in the Park. Contact:
SKI MT RUAPEHU
If snow sports are your thing, then Mount Ruapehu ski fields have got you covered. Home to two of NZ's top ski fields, Whakapapa and Turoa, with over 65 trails at Whakapapa and Australasia's longest vertical descent at Turoa, all levels are catered for and your days on the mountain won't be disappointing.
HIKING IN TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK
Book your personal and professional guide for a range of walks through Tongariro National Park with Adrift Outdoor Guiding. There are countless scenic walks throughout this part of the country, with the popular Tongariro Crossing being one of them (pictured above from a previous trip of mine). We had been booked to do a sunset hike on our stay this time but unfortunately the rain beat us to it. Unfinished business!
Thanks so much for reading this blog. I cant wait to return to Ruapehu in the near future and explore a bit more. For more info:
VISIT RUAPEHU TOURISM