Tongariro Crossing, North Island, New Zealand

Tongariro Walking Tracks

The Tongariro National Park, is located in the central North Island and offers an abundant array of outstanding hiking trails, including Taranaki Falls.

A generous area of the central North Island, 78, 618 hectares to be precise, is the Tongariro National Park.  The nearest towns are Turangi, National Park and Ohakune, plus the small alpine village of Whakapapa which is located within the Park itself.  A mecca for skiers in the winter, during summer Whakapapa transforms into a hikers’ heaven, with a multitude of excellent hiking trails on offer.

Tongariro Crossing, North Island, New ZealandThe most renowned of the walking tracks is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, 19.4km one way and a good 6-8 hours hike.  It can be walked unguided but to get maximum enjoyment from the trip, joining a small group with a guide is an excellent option.  Local transfers are taken care of and you can be confident that all safety precautions are being adhered to.  The region’s weather is highly unpredictable and it can rain or snow any time of the year. The guides have state-of-the-art communications to ensure any adverse weather changes are known sooner rather than later.

If a full day hike is a bit beyond your timeframe, the Tongariro National Park offers a multitude of other great options, one of which is Taranaki Falls Walking Track.  This is a 6km loop track, starting and finishing from Whakapapa village, that takes approximately 2 hours.  The upper and lower tracks which form the loop offer outstanding views of Mt Ngauruhoe’s symmetrical volcanic cone, the older more eroded summit of Mt Tongariro and massive Mt Ruapehu.  The terrain ranges from tussock and alpine shrubland, mountain beech forest and the small river gorge of the Wairere Stream.  Keep ears and eyes open for small native birds who inhabit the area.

The Taranaki Falls are approximately halfway around the loop and offer generous reward for your hiking efforts.  Tumbling some 20 metres over the edge of a lava flow, they are truly magnificent.  The Department of Conservation has kindly erected some welcoming seats where you can relax and absorb the dramatic landscape!

Tongariro Crossing, North Island, New ZealandWhen we walked the track we took the upper track to the Falls and returned via the lower track.  Speaking with other hikers who walked in the opposite direction, it seems walking the upper track first is better in terms of the uphill incline being better graded.

Taranaki Falls is an outstanding hike for those with moderate fitness and limited time.  Check hiking conditions at the visitor centre at Whakapapa Village before setting out, take water, snacks, extra clothing and be aware that volcanic activity can occur with little or no warning.  Check the local volcanic alert status at the visitor centre.

So when you’re planning your New Zealand vacation with some hiking in mind, create or choose a New Zealand itinerary that offers time in this spectacular region.  WithKiwiCombo Pass most self drive itineraries can be modified to ensure you have hiking time.

New Zealand Honeymoons on a Cheap & Cheerful Budget

New Zealand is a renowned honeymoon destination for the rich and famous, but simple pleasures can make them affordable & achievable. So live the dream!

New Zealand is a renowned honeymoon destination for the rich and famous.  But with some smart planning, realistic objectives and focus on enjoying the great, natural outdoors, New Zealand is a very achievable honeymoon or anniversary vacation for those on a more modest budget.  Sometimes it’s the simple pleasures that make the best memories!

Enjoy cycling through the vineyards together.We would all like to be pampered at a luxury lodge or 5 star resort hotel, but when reality kicks in and choices have to be made there is a good range of affordable accommodation alternatives available.  New Zealand’s motel accommodation is generally excellent value and offers you a “home away from home” with your own living area, kitchen, ensuite and bathroom.  Instead of dining out every night, perhaps self cater some evenings.  It’s fun to explore local markets for fresh fish and meat, vegetables and fruit and create your own style of dining, with a kiwi twist.  Try our succulent lamb, farmed salmon and salad ingredients straight from the market gardens.  Many motels have free barbecue facilities in picturesque garden settings which provide the ideal setting for a relaxing, balmy summer evening.

Purchasing a cooler bag to keep in your rental car is a great way to take food items with you.  Having snacks and lunch on hand when you discover a deserted beach or quiet riverbank is very convenient and offers you the opportunity to spend more time at these special places rather than hunting out cafes and food stores to replenish the energy levels.

Unlike some countries, New Zealand’s breathtakingly beautiful National Parks are easy to visit.  They offer some of the most outstanding scenic landscapes, accessible by well maintained hiking trails that often lead to cascading waterfalls, remote lakes and majestic forests and native bush.  Take a picnic lunch in your day pack and spend entire days enjoying and sharing these spectacular natural attractions.  Find your own stretch of golden sand beach.  You won’t need your credit card.  Just leave your footprints in the sand until the next tide.

With a little planning and creative thinking it’s very possible to keep the budget under control.  Admire the landscapes, savour the fresh air and space – they don’t cost anything, but they are very valuable, simple pleasures.  Check out some helpful sampleNew Zealand itineraries to use as a starting point, make smart decisions about your travel expenses, prioritise where you want to spend your budget.  For example, after a few nights in good quality 3 star accommodation, you might like to treat yourself to some 4 or 5 star luxury for the next couple of nights.  This adds variety, helps the affordability and makes your honeymoon very special indeed.

So, if New Zealand is on your horizon as a honeymoon or romantic holiday destination, start planning now!