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Tramping & Hiking

The Whanganui and Tongariro National Parks offer superb access to some of the most breathtaking scenery on the planet. Tongariro is New Zealand's oldest national park and a dual World Heritage area.

This status recognises the park's important Maori cultural and spiritual associations as well as its outstanding volcanic features. This complex landscape is covered in the largest tract of lowland forest in the North Island.

Bridge to NowhereWhether it be 5 minutes or 5 days, there is something suitable for everyone. Owhango Hotel and Forest Lodge are ideally situated as a gateway and staging point for those venturing into the Tongariro & Whanganui National Parks.

Also in close proximity is the Whanganui River which is an exclusive member of the "Great Walks" system. Fascinating relics of early Maori settlement can be seen along the way, including; ancient fortified village (pa) sites, historic churches, old villages (kainga) and unusual war and peace poles ('niu' poles). At Mangapurua Landing, a short walk takes you to the famous ‘Bridge To Nowhere’, the legacy of a farming development scheme that failed.

For your convenience we have listed some of the more prominent walks in and around Forest Lodge. If you require more information, we can provide extensive knowledge of the surrounding area as well as advise you on what's suitable for you and your party.

  • Tongariro Northern Circuit - Approximately 30 min's from Forest Lodge.
    The Tongariro Northern Circuit winds its way over Mt Tongariro and around Mt Ngauruhoe. This walk passes through unique and stunning landforms, which include volcanic craters and glacial valleys.
    A range of trips can be planned around the Tongariro Northern Circuit.

    Day trips including an overnight trip to one of the four huts, or a three to four day walk around the complete circuit.
  • Mt Ruapehu Crater Lake walk - Approximately 30 min's from Forest Lodge.
    The traditional route for the ascent starts at the top of the Whakapapa Ski Field. Take the chair lift, which starts, at the top of Bruce Road o Knoll Ridge Chalet. The lift staff have a small map with a suggested route - stick to it as it is easy to get lost on the mountain. At Knoll Ridge Chalet (which serves as a restaurant), there's a photo exhibition of the eruption which you may wish to have a quick look at.

    At first, follow the ski lift to the right of the chalet. The lower route branches off to the right rather soon, whereas the upper route leads via the top of the ski lift. Neither route is signposted, so you need to pay good attention to the map or follow the people in front of you. After about 3 hours, you will reach the Dome Shelter overlooking the Crater Lake. The area beyond the Dome Shelter has seen major "landscaping" during the eruptions in 1995 and 1996.

    Dome Shelter is also one of the seismological survey stations for the volcano. The actual equipment is in a concrete vault beneath the shelter - for a good reason: the shelter was extensively damaged during the eruptions.

    Traditionally people return to the ski field via the upper route.

    Plan about five hours for the return trip.
  • 5 Day round the Mountains - Approximately 30 min's from Forest Lodge.
    The round the mountain track takes in a complete circuit, which encompasses all three of the prominent volcanoes Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngauruhoe, Mt Ruapehu, as well as passing by all of the historic huts etc. This walk enables the keen tramper to enjoy all of the parks wonders on a more relaxed time table. A good level of fitness is necessary to enjoy this walk.
  • Ohinetonga Board WalkOhinetonga Scenic Reserve - Approximately 2 min's from Forest Lodge.

    A loop track starts just before the bridge over the Whakapapa River.

    The track takes you through lovely bush and across a short boardwalk over a lagoon.

    Allow about 1.5 hours.
  • Tawhai Falls Walk - Approximately 25 min's from Forest Lodge.
    Tawhai Falls walk is a short track through beech forest and mountain Toatoa. People seem to enjoy paddling over these falls which is a great sight if you happen to be there when they are in action.

    Allow 20 minutes return.
  • Silica Rapids Walk - Approximately 40 min's from Forest Lodge.
    This 2 to 3 hour loop track starts about 200 metres above Whakapapa Village. The track follows an unusually coloured stream taking you to the rapids which have been coloured by mineral deposits. Silica track boasts great views of Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngauruhoe. The track returns via the Bruce Rd about 2 km's above the Visitors’ Centre.

    Allow 2 to 3 hour return.
  • Taranaki Falls - Approximately 40 min's from Forest Lodge.
    Starting near three hundred metres below Whakapapa Visitor centre, at the end of Ngauruhoe place. This is a fantastic walk, which has a great display of both native bush and tussock vegetation, extensive lava formations over 15,000 years ago, not to mention the Taranaki Falls the best viewing is from the falls picnic area.

    Allow 1.5 to 2 hours return.
  • Whakapapanui Walk - Approximately 40 min's from Forest Lodge.
    This track, which starts off SH48 two kilometres above Tawhai Falls car park is signposted. It winds its way through regenerating beech forest and follows the Whakapapanui stream to come out at the village. You can either return along the same track or along SH48.

    Allow about 1 hour each way.
  • Ridge Track - Approximately 40 min's from Forest Lodge.
    Begins 3.5 km below Whakapapa Village on SH 48. After a short climb through low beech forest, the track emerges into alpine shrub lands with panoramic views of Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and the surrounding National Park.

    Approximately 20 minute walk returning on the same track.
  • Whakapapa Nature Walk - Approximately 40 min's from Forest Lodge.
    Begins 200m above Whakapapa Village. Formally known as the Alpine Garden, the sealed loop track provides wheelchair access for a glimpse of the unique flora of Tongariro National Park.

    Allow 20 - 30 min's.
  • Lake Rotopounamu - Approximately 40 min's from Forest Lodge.
    Lake Rotopounamu (‘greenstone lake’) nestles on the side of Mt Pihanga. This beautiful lake is a special favourite of tree lovers, bird watchers, walkers and swimmers.

    Beginning opposite the car park, the track winds gently uphill to a junction. At the junction the track to the left goes to Ten Minute Beach which is a pleasant picnic and swimming spot in summer. To walk around the lake turn right at the junction and follow a short section of metalled track before dropping down towards Five Minute Beach.

    Here a broad tree stump provides a good spot to view the lake. Rotopounamu was formed by a landslide about 10,000 years ago. It is nine metres deep and covers one square kilometre. Long Beach sweeps along the eastern side of the lake and is an ideal spot for a picnic or rest stop. There is a toilet here as well.

    From here the track continues to the northern shore where three of Rotopounamu’s four tributary streams enter the lake. The lake has no visible outflow and possibly drains via an underground stream or seepage.