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Taking in Tongariro

Taking in Tongariro

On our way back to Auckland on our driving trip of the North Island of New Zealand, we knew we had to stop in to the Tongariro National Park. I’d seen the Chateau Tongariro in my research for our trip, and once I’d spotted it and it’s breathtaking snowy mountain backdrop, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Our driving route was going to be taking us right through the Tongariro National Park anyway, so a visit to such a special location was very necessary. The weather conditions weren’t ideal for hiking, and we only had one night, but our time in the area was so fun and felt like the perfect amount of time (especially given our limited planning for what we did while in the area). The Chateau Tongariro opened in the late 1920s, and the grounds and rooms still feel like you’re stepping back in time as you take in the surroundings.

We stopped into the sweet visitors centre on our way to the Chateau, and saw a flier for a local business that did scenic flight tours. I’ve never been much of a risk taker, but something about a flight above the volcanos felt totally thrilling and I suddenly was desperate to do it. We checked into the hotel, went to our room, and then went straight back out, driving another 10 minutes or so down the road to the business that offered the flights. There was just enough time to do a flight, with the pilot getting ready to go kiwi tracking later that evening. We paid for the flight, did some checks, recorded our weight, were bundled into the tiny plane before we knew it were up in the air. Getting to see the beautiful emerald lakes and the snow on top of the craters of the volcanos was a magical experience, and I’m so glad we did something so spontaneous! It was definitely one of the highlights of our time in New Zealand.

Tongariro and the beautiful wildlife of the region feature in my new book Hello, New Zealand!. Spot the tomtit, the tui and more!

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Heading to the Tongariro region yourself? Here’s what we recommend!

SNACK

The food options are a little light on around the Tongariro area, so most are affiliated with the hotel. We ate at the nearby Tussock bar, and had breakfast in the Ruapehu Room which was lovely. Coffee and snow capped mountain views is a dreamy way to start the day
SHOP
This isn’t the place to come for shopping… so we splurged on an experience instead!
SEE
The mountains, the volcanos, the lakes, the Chateau… taking in all the sights from the little plane was such a fun experience, and worth every penny. We did a short flight with Mountain Air; we were lucky they had availability as we didn’t book, so if you’re going to visit and hope to try a flight, definitely book ahead so you don’t miss out!
STAY
The Chateau Tongariro — feeling like something out of a Wes Anderson film, the beautiful details that hark back to the hotels construction in 1930 was a memorable stay

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