Sunday, 22 September 2013

KIWI GEM: Tongariro National Park

 In New Zealand, Tongariro was the first national park to be established and the the fourth in the world. The main entrance to the park is through Whakapapa village. Tongariro National Park is located four hours south of Auckland, but is very much worth the drive. It offers a taste of the North islands wild and scenic landscape.

Even though spring is upon us, there were still loads of people skiing in Whakapapa Ski Field. So if you want to experience high quality skiing combined with an amazing view, this is your place. This national park offers a wide vairty of acitvities.

The Maori tale
Going back to 1887, the chief of Ngati Tuwharetoa, Te Heuheu IV (Horonuku), gifted the sacred peaks of Ngauruhoe, Tongariro and parts of Ruapehu to the people of New Zealand. By doing so, he prevented the land from being divided up and preserved the prestige of his people (Tuwharetoa).

Originally, the deed was made up of a 2640 ha area containing three small circles around each of the main peaks. Over the following years, the Crown bought large pieces of land, gradually increasing the size of the area. In 1894 the Tongariro National Park act was passed and the area had then increased to about 25,000 ha. After a report and survey, it was recommended that the area should be doubled. Today the park include an area of over 79,000 ha.


The Whakapapa
For tangata whenua (people of the land), the mountains are a vital part of their history.  Their whakapapa (genealogy) and legends are venerated accordingly.
Ko Tongariro te maunga Tongariro is the mountain
Ko Taupo te moana Taupo is the lake
Ko Ngati Tuwharetoa te tangata  Ngati Tuwharetoa are the people
Ko Te Heuheu te tangata Te Heuheu is the man

Maori culture is rooted into all aspect of Kiwi life, almost at least. Wherever you go, you can see some part of Maori culture. During our weekend trip with Au Pair link, we made our own Whakapapa, which is a way of presenting your family, . Unfortunately I can’t remember the exact one we did, but I pieced together an example:

Ko Geilo te maunga (My mountain is Geilo)
Ko Oslofjorden te moana (My sea is Oslofjorden)
Ko Laugerud te iwi (My tribe is Laugerud)
Ko Tom-Daniel ahau (I am Tom-Daniel)

Not all of us wanted to go skiing, so many of us opted for a hike. Because of the limitation of our time, we couldn't do more than a 8K hike up to one of the waterfall here.


Next year we plan on going back to do one of New Zealand's Great Walks, The Northern Circuit. It's just over 43km long and normally takes about 3-4 days to hike. Along the way is huts we can stay in, which is owned and maintained by the Department of Conservation.

For those of you that are Lord of the Rings fans, we'll basically be going through the mountain pass of Mount Doom (real name: Mount Ngauruhoe).