There is simply no better way to discover Tongariro National Park than on foot. Taking the time to traverse through this diverse landscape is always a rewarding experience, no matter how long or short the track is. While there are plenty of famous walking tracks that bring people to the region, these secret walking tracks in Tongariro are lesser-known gems.
All walking tracks in Tongariro offer something unique.
There is so much to see in this dual heritage site and through multiple trails, trekkers are able to capture it all.
Walking through Tongariro National Park, you’ll see mountains, waterfalls, baron dessert, native bush, lakes, rivers and streams.
Weaving through the landscape via the walking tracks in Tongariro is the perfect way to go at your own pace and take it all in.
Pack a picnic and experience the secret walking tracks in Tongariro National Park
If you love a good waterfall, you’ll love the Tupapahuru Falls track. Beginning in National Park Village just a few minutes down the road from the Park Hotel, head up Fishers Road until you reach the track (approximately 30 minutes).
From the moment you step onto the Tupapahurua Falls track, you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. The rugged track is lined with thick native bush and, while the National Park Village is only metres behind you, you’ll only hear the sound of chirping birds and rushing water in the distance.
For the first 20 minutes, the track is relatively easy and would make a good family-friendly stroll. You can turn back at any point which means the track can be as long or as short as you like. However, once you enter into the denser bush, the track is more like a back-country experience, with streams, narrow tracks, fallen trees and steep sections to navigate.
As the majority of the track heads downhill until you reach the falls, you need to be of a reasonable fitness level as you’ll be heading uphill on your way back!
Reaching Tupapahurua Falls is incredibly rewarding.
Experience the beauty and isolation as the waterfall plunges into the valley floor and stand among a diverse forest of native Tawa, Rimu, Totara and Miro.
Time to complete: 4-5 hours
A half hour’s drive from The Park Hotel is the Te Ponanga Saddle, the starting point for Lake Rotopounamu walking track. The lake fills a crater nine metres deep and one kilometre wide and sits at the foot of Mount Pinhanga.
This leisurely walk takes you around Lake Rotopounamu with plenty of well-appointed lookout spots to stop for a picnic, a swim or to simply take in the magic of the scenery.
The area is known as a safe haven for a wide range of birdlife. You’ll hear a mixture of birdsongs while on the Lake Rotopounamu Walk and may even be lucky enough to spot a rare bird or two. The North Island Robin is often seen here as well as the Kaka, Kereru and Falcon.
The track is well signposted and finishes with a gentle downhill walk back to the carpark.
Distance: 5 km
Time to complete: 2 hours
Ohinetonga Loop Track
The entry point for the Ohinetonga Loop Track is only a 15-minute drive from The Park Hotel in a remote area called Owhango.
This loop track is an easy, family-friendly walk that weaves through thick native bush and stunning scenery before passing the impressive Ohinetonga lagoon. We recommend taking a picnic and stopping by the river to appreciate the seclusion and beauty of the forest.
The area is home to the Whio, New Zealand’s endangered blue duck, one of our rarest birds. Sightings of Whio through the Ohinetonga Loop Track are very possible which adds to the significance of this walking track.
While the bush is very dense, the tracks are well maintained with a mix of boardwalks and bush trails. You’ll see many parts of the river as you traverse through the Ohinetonga Loop Track and you’re welcome to take a dip before re-joining the track and heading back to the starting point.
Time to complete: 2 hours
Whakapapapaiti Valley Track
The entry point for the Whakapapapaiti Valley track is 45 minutes into the Silica Rapids walking track. You’ll find the Silica Rapids track just off Bruce Road, only seven minutes drive from The Park Hotel.
When you reach the Whakapapapaiti Valley junction, turn onto this track and prepare for four to five hours of unique hiking. This track passes through forest and tussock before crossing the Whakapapapaiti River by bridge.
Moving further into the valley is an unbridged river crossing which may not be possible if there has been significant rainfall and the river is high. For this reason, summer is a great time to attempt this walk for the first time.
The Whakapapapaiti Hut is available for use on a first-in-first-served basis. The hut sleeps 18 by bunk beds and, while facilities are limited, it’s a good place to stop and recharge.
Once you have passed the Whakapapapaiti Hut, make your way through beech forest until you reach the Round the Mountain Track junction and turn left back towards Bruce Road.
You’ll see so much of the mountainous landscape within Tongariro National Park on this walk. It’s important to tell someone about your hiking plans before embarking on this walk due to the rugged nature of the area.
Time to complete: 4-5 hours
If you want to see more of Tongariro National Park, we highly recommend doing so via some of the many walking tracks in Tongariro. If you’re looking at trying something a little different, check out one of these secret walking tracks for a new kind of experience.
Tongariro’s landscape is so varied that all walking tracks offer something unique.
No two tracks are created equal and there are walking tracks for all levels and abilities here in Tongariro National Park.
Our location offers easy and convenient access to all walking tracks in Tongariro. Whether it’s a walk or a short drive to the starting point, The Park Hotel is close to all tracks in the region, making our accommodation the perfect choice on your next visit to Tongariro National Park. Call us today to book.