at the Chateau Tongariro
to do in Taupo
and Accommodation in Taupo
Central Plateau of New Zealand's North Island is famous for its
proximity to some terrific ski fields - such as Turoa
and Whakapapa - and the wild terrain of the
Desert Road is a highway that crosses the alpine desert and the
inhospitable weather makes it an interesting route to drive along.
winter it is often closed by snows, but a trip down it during the
colder months is far from bleak.
side of the Desert Road is covered with wonderful low scrublands
and on the western rise the majestic backdrop of Mt Ruapehu, Mt
Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe.
is a photographer's dream landscape although before you go hopping
out of the car it is advisable to wrap up well.
winds can be brutally cold and will whip off the mountains and through
any unprotected places like a frozen knife. That said I did see
some people having a picnic at a roadside stop on the day I went
through when it could have been no more than 10 degrees Celcius
(with a wind-chill factor of minus 4000!).
rugged nature of the Central Plateau makes it the perfect place
to have a major training area for the army and there are plenty
of signs around telling you it is dangerous to get off the main
road at certain places.
Desert Road begins south of Turangi, the
gateway for the Central Plateau.
Turangi is about 30 minutes south of Taupo
and from there you can either continue south towards Waiouru
- and do check out the really cool Tree Trunk Gorge - or cut across
west to National Park and the mountains of Mt Tongariro (1978m),
Mt Ngauruhoe (2291m) and Mt Ruapehu (2797m) and terrific winter
Trunk Gorge is on, surprisingly, Tree Trunk Gorge Rd to the left
as you drive south. Follow the road for a few kilometres until you
come to a concrete bridge and then park and check out the view.
bridge crosses a narrow rocky, shrub-covered, canyon that has been
sliced through solid rock by the Tongariro River. It is an amazing
can also visit the nearby Pillars of Hercules down Kaimanawa Rd.
These are not as interesting as Tree Trunk Gorge but you do get
to test your nerve on a suspension bridge to get to the middle of
the pillars. It swings a bit, I say understating it.
on State Highway 46 Tongariro offers the famous Tongariro Crossing
- a day's hiking over picturesque countryside - and has recently
been active witn two eruptions. Check
out pictures of the most recent eruption on Mt Tongariro.
Mt Ngaruhoe is my choice for its sheer photogenic nature, but for
awesome size Mt Ruapehu grabs your attention.
a clear day driving around National Park is a pleasure as the mountains
are truly majestic.
is a mecca for trout fisherman and the symbol of the town is a flyfisher.
The place is also a great base for kayaking and rafting on the Tongariro