Jess is a Wanderer in Tongariro National Park
Tongariro National Park is famous for the ever-popular Tongariro Alpine Crossing that sees thousands of visitors complete each year. With the infamous Devil's Staircase (a trillion, billion steps that are able to give you a heart attack), views of Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings and beautiful emerald lakes, it's easy to see why it's so popular.
But what else does this National Park have to offer? Much more, that's for sure! As well as being home to Mount Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom), there is also Mount Ruapehu (great in winter for the ski lovers) and a number of long and short walks all over the place. One such walk is to Taranaki Falls (pictured above). This loop track will take a couple of hours and is around 5km. A good boardwalk winds through the bush and it's definitely not a taxing hike.
Another highlight is Tawhai Falls - aka Gollum's Pools from Lord of the Rings. This is where the famous critter is singing to himself and catching fish. Looks very different in real life but it's definitely the right place! It's busy with people coming to walk like Gollum over the rocks but if you hang around long enough you can get a people-free shot.
The views from within the park are quite incredible. Mount Ruapehu, Mount Ngauruhoe and Tongariro Mountain can all be viewed (at the same time) if you're lucky or prepared to wait an unspecified amount of time for the clouds to clear. Here are some of the best shots below: