After working through the previous weekend at a conference in New Plymouth, we were keen to make the most of the three day weekend and decided on a trip to Tongariro National Park and to stay in the legendary Chateau Tongariro, commonly described as a cross between the Grand Budapest Hotel and the hotel from The Shining. J wanted to go to this area as it’s littered with volcanoes literally everywhere you turn.
The drive was about 4 and a bit hours from Wellington and we had a stunning day for it getting amazing views of Kapiti Island as we left Wellington. Apart from a brief stop to buy supplies and a giant bag of sweet and salty popcorn (which didn’t even last a few hours) we were soon in Tongariro in the central North Island. As we had been sitting all day we took to opportunity to take a short walk to one of the waterfalls a few minutes drive from the hotel. Only a 20 minute stroll it is worth it to see the beautiful New Zealand bush and the calm waterfall and river.
The drive up to the Chateau is quite spectacular as it comes into view, with a freshly snowy volcano on one side and ‘Mount Doom’ on the other. It was a great place to stay, nice rooms, great views and lots of amenities such as cafes, cinema, bars etc. right on your doorstep.
On Sunday we got up early to do the Tama lakes walk, which starts off in beautiful forest and past amazing waterfalls. It then climbs up to quite open country and then on two twin craters which are now lakes. The lower lake is a stunning colour, especially with the snow in the background and after a bit of a hike up the ridge you reach the upper lake which looks quite epic framed by Mount Doom. After reaching the top we rested for lunch, taking in the wonderful views before making our way back down and to the hotel. The walk was about 5 hours in all and was all quite manageable apart from the last section from the lower lake to the upper lake which was much trickier.
The next day, a bit sore from the walk, we decided to do a more gentle walk for day two and walk the Ohakune old coach road where the coaches used to travel south from Auckland. It was a more overcast day, but a lovely walk to do via the old tunnel and the viaduct.
To check out the hotel we stayed at, Chateau Tongariro, CLICK HERE