10 Best Things to Do in National Park Village


National Park Village Activities

As the name suggests, National Park Village is an awesome base for exploring the Tongariro National Park and all the activities it has to offer. From mountain biking to hiking to even culinary experiences and mini-golf, there is a wide range of experiences to be had in this little alpine village in the North Island. Find out what you can get up in this list of things to do in National Park Village!

In between hitting the slopes in winter on Mt Ruapehu or taking on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, stay in some cheap accommodation to save on the cents in these 7 Best Backpacker Hostels in National Park Village and Whakapapa. For more things to do in the area, see 10 Tongariro National Park Must-Dos.

1. Hike the Tongariro Crossing

National Park Village is the perfect base for tackling the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing. The 19.4km (12-mile) one-way hike offers sensational views of the best volcanic landscape in the Tongariro National Park: vibrant lakes, volcanic plateaus, volcanic cones, steaming vents, scree, lava flows and much more! There are plenty of shuttle services operating from National Park to take you to and from The Crossing. Take a look at Tongariro Crossing Accommodation and Transport: A Practical Guide for more information.

Location: 16km (10 miles) from National Park. We recommend using a shuttle service if you intend to do the full hike. Otherwise, the Mangatepopo Road is about 13km (8 miles) down State Highway 47, then follow the Mangatepopo Road to the car park.©

2. Walk to Tupapakurua Falls

Discover the breathtaking and lesser-known forest areas of the area on the Tupapakurua Falls Track. Either walk to the Taranaki Lookout (2h30min return) to see awesome views across the valleys and all the way to Mt Taranaki on a clear day or continue to the Tupapakurua Falls Lookout (4-5 hours return) to get awesome views of the impressive Tupapakurua Falls. Follow the orange markers as the track continues steeply down to the stream below for another perspective.

Location: Start from the end of Carroll Street and follow the Fishers Road to where the track begins. (It’s well signposted).©

3. See Tawhai Falls

Don’t worry, not all waterfall walks are a 5-hour walk. Tawhai Falls is one of the easiest waterfalls to get to in the Tongariro National Park and it’s only an 8-minute drive from National Park Village. See this picturesque waterfall tumbling over an ancient lava flow only 10 minutes down the Tawhai Falls Track. There are a ton of walks in the area so head over to 13 Walks Around National Park Village & Whakapapa Village.

Location: 12km (7 miles) from National Park. Take State Highway 47 onto State Highway 48 toward Whakapapa Village. The walk is off the side of the road about 2.5km (1.5 miles) down SH48.©

4. Have High Tea at the Chateau Tongariro [CLOSED]

Update: Due to the derelict state of the building, Chateau Tongariro is no longer accepting bookings.

Have a break from all the adventuring and kick back and relax with High Tea at the historic hotel at the base of Mt Ruapehu. Relax in the Ruapehu Lounge with windows looking out to the surrounding volcanoes as you sip on tea and sample some sweet treats of the High Tea platter.

Location: 15km (9 miles) from National Park Village. Take State Highway 47 onto State Highway 48 all the way to Whakapapa Village where there is ample parking just outside the Chateau Tongariro. (You can’t miss it).©

5. Cycle the Fishers Track

This grade 2 mountain biking trail has around 17km of downhill fun to enjoy. Great views across forested valleys await! Better yet, the trail starts from National Park Village itself! Go to the end of Carroll Street and over the railway crossing, following a steady 3km climb up a gravel track. After the downhill section, the rest of the way is alongside farmland where the trail ends at The Monument. A return shuttle can be organised from National Park Village. The whole trail is 28km (17 miles), taking about 2-3 hours to complete. Take a look at Mountain Biking in Ruapehu for more information.

Location: Carroll Street.©

6. Ski or Snowboard on Mt Ruapehu

During the winter season (June to October), hit the slopes of Whakapapa! Whakapapa is New Zealand’s largest ski field packed with trails for all abilities. Ski and snowboard rental are available both in National Park Village and at the Whakapapa ski field. Shuttles operate from National Park regularly or you can drive yourself!

Location: 22km (14 miles) from National Park. Take State Highway 47, then State Highway 48 toward Whakapapa Village. Continue straight through the village onto the Bruce Road and up the mountain.


7. Hike or Take the Chairlift on Mt Ruapehu in Summer

During summer, the Whakapapa chairlifts are still running to help you explore its amazing volcanic landscape. Have a coffee at the Knoll Ridge Cafe at the top of the chairlift, or take on one of the many hikes in the area. Follow the Waterfalls Descent track (2 hours one way) from the Whakapapa base to the Knoll Ridge Cafe taking in the views of waterfalls and the rugged volcanic terrain. The Skyline Track (1h30min return) from Knoll Ridge provides awesome views of Mt Ngauruhoe, Lake Taupo and more. Finally, take the short walk to Meads Wall (10 minutes one way) for great views of Mt Ngauruhoe and to see a Lord of the Rings filming location. Pick up a trail map from the store at the Whakapapa base if you are unsure of where to go.

Location: 22km (14 miles) from National Park. Take State Highway 47, then State Highway 48 toward Whakapapa Village. Continue straight through the village onto the Bruce Road and up the mountain.©

8. Climb at the Indoor Climbing Hall

On those days when the weather isn’t playing ball, your rainy-day saviour is the indoor climbing wall in National Park Village! Climbing walls are 8m high with around 300m2 (984ft2) of wall and around 55 different climbs. Find the climbing wall at the National Park Backpackers.

Location: Findlay Street.©

9. Mountain Bike the 42 Traverse

For an epic mountain biking mission, don’t miss the 42 Traverse. This 46km (28.5-mile) grade 3-4 bike trail has an overall descent of 570m of challenging downhills and muscle-testing uphills. Following this old logging route in the Tongariro Forest Park will take about 4-7 hours to complete. Organise one of the National Park shuttle services to pick you up at the end. Find out more about the trail in our mountain biking guide.

Location: 19km (12 miles) from National Park. Start from Kapoors Road, about 16km (10 miles) down State Highway 47.


10. Play Mini-golf

Who doesn’t love a game of mini-golf? Take on the 18-hole course with fun features like a ski field chairlift. Get your clubs and ball from the Schnapps Bar.

Location: Corner of State Highway 4 and Findlay Street.©

More Things to Do Near National Park Village

That’s it for the best things to do in National Park Village. For more activities on your travels, check out the 51 Best Things to Do in the North Island.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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