Most famous for the popular Tongariro Alpine Crossing, for those in the know National Park is also home to a million other tramps and stunning locations. Adventure Outdoors owner/operator Sarah Cate has been exploring the area for 15 years and says: “Down every road is an adventure!”
0600: Set the alarm for a climb of 1521m Hauhungatahi, one of the oldest volcanoes in the area. From National Park Village it’s a two-minute drive south to Erua and the car park by the railway lines. With a fully equipped daypack, head up the old Wilderness Experience Track to the top of the bushline on the western flanks.
0800: The summit may be in sight, but keep your eye on the ground: in the siltstone you’ll find fossilised oyster, scallop and barnacle shells – evidence that this land was once beneath the sea.
0930: At the summit are breathtaking views of mountains, glacier-carved valleys, eroded mountain flanks, lava flows and the remains of buried trees from the pyroclastic flows created from the Lake Taupo eruption. Mt Ruapehu seams only a footstep away. Take a break and put your feet up; it’s unlikely anyone else will be around.
1030: There’s a big afternoon ahead, so decend by the same route.
1300: Back at the car, head to Macrocarpa Cafe in National Park Village for bacon, eggs and beans.
1345: Grab your bike (or hire one from Kiwi Mountain Bikes in National Park) and ride down Carroll Street, over the rail tracks and turn right onto Fishers Road and the start of Fishers Track.
1350: A 30-minute uphill grind will have you cresting the track and starting a massively fun downhill ride to the Kaitieke Valley with stunning views to Mt Taranaki and Whanganui National Park. Ride back to the village or arrange transport to pick you up (recommended).
1730: Back in National Park, take your pick of places to dine – the village has a bar and restaurant on every corner!
Bring your fly fishing rod, get a license and drive 20 minutes to Lake Otamangakau – one of the best trout fishing spots around. The season runs from October 1 to May 31. Walk and fish the shoreline by the inlet canal and test your luck pulling in a 4-8pound rainbow or brown trout.
Take a scenic paddle on the Whakapapa River, just 15-minutes north of National Park. The scenery is stunning and you’ll have a good chance to spot whio (blue duck); the area is home to the highest density population of whio in the North Island. Gear hire and guides are available locally.