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Is it worth the drive from Taupo if you can't walk far?

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
20 posts
7 reviews
Is it worth the drive from Taupo if you can't walk far?

We are considering visiting the Tongariro National Park in March and were wondering if it is worth visiting if you can't walk very far ie about 30 minutes max. My partner has an old injury that restricts him. Are you able to see much of the scenery by car?. We will be driving from Taupo. Thanks for your advice.

New Plymouth
Level Contributor
1,495 posts
46 reviews
1. Re: Is it worth the drive from Taupo if you can't walk far?

Hmmm. Very good question.

There are some short walks, including a couple of loops leaving from Whakapapa Village, and a few other short walks from the road (SH48) up to Whakapapa. You would definitely see some of the barren tussock areas of lower Mount Ruapehu, and some of the more forested areas.

Have lunch at the Chateau Tongariro - modelled on Canadian Pacific Railway hotels - good view of Mount Ngauruhoe through their picture window if the weather is clear.

Whakapapa village sits at about 1120m, so the weather can be changeable at any time of year. The skifield above it stretches up to about 400m below the summit of Ruapehu (2797m - highest mountain in the North Island).

If you are heading on south to Wellington or another destination, I would recommend it, but if you are heading for Napier, or returning north from Taupo, then I would suggest you take a cruise out on Lake Taupo, and admire Mounts Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, and Tongariro from there.

Sydney Australia
Level Contributor
8,137 posts
98 reviews
2. Re: Is it worth the drive from Taupo if you can't walk far?

My first thought on reading your question was - Absolutely!! We had a lovely time enjoying the scenery driving around Lake Taupo, past wonderful views of the Volcanos across the tussock grass plains to Waiouru where we visited the Army Museum. Then we headed around via Ohakune to National Park and up to Whakapapa and up to the chair lift (too late and ill prepared to ride it unfortunately) then we drove back down. You really feel like you're on a volcano! Then we continued our loop back with stop at an old pa site overlooking Lake Rotoaira which we found very interesting. The only things we did which you might not be able to tackle were a short walk at Tawhai Falls, where there was 64 stairs (though they have low risers) to the first view of the falls and another 51 to get to the river itself. We also took a walk at Lake Rotopounamu which had been described to us as a "level" walk. It isn't.

We felt that the day was very enjoyable indeed and it made a very nice scenic drive. The views of the volcanos and driving up the volcano were awesome. Much nicer than most of the driving in the central area of the North Island... and you can stop at the very memorably decorated licorice cafe. :-)

3. Re: Is it worth the drive from Taupo if you can't walk far?

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