Although Tongariro National Park is famous for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which is a serious 19 km/8 hours hike, the region has so many other shorter walk to suit any kind of fitness.
The most popular walk is the Taranaki Falls walk, which is an easy 6 km loop walk for all fitness levels.
We always recommend to our guests to start on the lower track as you will be walking towards the bottom of the waterfall while if you start on the upper track you will approach the waterfall from the top. The walk passes through tussock and alpine shrublands before entering beech forest. On a clear day Ngauruhoe’s symmetrical cone and the older, eroded mountains of Tongariro and Pukekaikiore are visible.
The Taranaki Falls has a 20 meters drop over the edge of a large ancient lava flow whih is around 15,000 years old. On a hot summers day don't hesitate to take a dip in the pool at the bottom of the falls. Very refreshing! The bottom of the falls is also a great resting and lunch spot as their are plenty of big boulders to sit to enjoy the views from. There might even be recreational abseiling providing some entertainment.
The trail continues with a climb up a flight of 100 steps If you are brave enough you can stand on top of the waterfall and look down and across the river valley.
Allow approch 90 minutes to complete this loop at a leisurely pace.
At the top of the steps you either turn right to walk back to Whakapapa Village or you can continue to the left on the Tama Lakes walk. Walk to the lower Tama lake or climb up to 1440 m to see the Upper Tama Lake. Total return walk from the carpark is around 17 km if you go to the Upper Tama Lake
Some of the oldest lava flows on the slopes of Ruapehu and Tongariro can be found at the Tama Saddle. Tama Lakes occupy six explosion craters, created around 10,000 years ago during an explosive eruption period.
Ensure to pack warm clothes as weather can change quickly and as you climb up the temperatures will drop. The Tama Lakes walk is a great alternative to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing as it is not as exposed and not as straineous but equally as beautiful. Walking towards the Tama Lake youa re awarded with spectacular view of Mt Ngauruhoe and on your return Mt Ruapehu will be your view.