A Scenic Flight Above Tongariro National Park

Published: February 14, 2015

How nerve-wracking; I’ve been waiting for 30 minutes and our pilot Brent still can’t guarantee that we’ll take off. There is some low cloud around and the plane is too light to just fly through it.

Finally, I see him walk out of his office with a smile, it’s ok, we’re off. The runway is pretty basic, in fact, we’re just in a paddock but it only takes a few metres for our small plane to take off.

The grandiose Tongariro National Park is home to 3 volcanoes and is a UNESCO dual world heritage site because of its natural and cultural significance. It’s usually just referred to as National Park as it was NZ’s first. We head off towards Ruapehu, to begin with, the highest of the 3 volcanoes; it’s still active and last erupted in the 90s. Once we arrive above it it’s clear that it is not dormant from the bubbling blue Crater Lake below us, it’s an impressive sight and I take heaps of photos hoping that at least one of them turns out great.

Next, we head for Mt Ngauruhoe (I’ll let you try and pronounce that one!), it's perfect volcanic cone shape will thrill Lord of the Rings fans, it was used as Mt Doom in the film trilogy. The bright red colour of Ngauruhoe is in stark contrast to the turquoise blue of Ruapehu’s Crater Lake. Then we attain Mt. Tongariro which was supposedly extinct but several eruptions in 2012 proved that theory wrong - one of them threw a volcanic rock onto the Hut at Ketetahi which has since been made into a museum. From up here, I can see day-walkers on the Tongariro Crossing, our most well-known one day trek. It’s a very demanding walk, 19.4km (12miles) in total with a lot of up and downhill. Finally, we fly over Red Crater and the Emerald Lakes before heading back to the airstrip.

If long walks aren’t your thing definitely do the scenic flight if you do undertake the Tongariro Alpine Crossing the scenic flight is a perfect way to complete your discovery of this very special park.

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