Tongariro National Park

The mountains at the heart of the national park have cultural and spiritual significance to the local iwi (tribe) Ngāti Tūwharetoa and symbolise the spiritual links between this community and their environment.

Tongariro National Park has active and extinct volcanoes, a diverse range of ecosystems and spectacular landscapes.




The Crown sought to establish a National Park around Tongariro maunga (mountain).

In 1887, the generosity and foresight of the Ngāti Tūwharetoa people saw the heart of the mountainous area being made sacrosanct, with the intent that the Crown would stand alongside them to ensure the continued protection of Tongariro. 

The Ariki (Chief) of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Horonuku te Heuheu Tukino IV enacted a tuku (an act of customary lore) of the three volcanic peaks (Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, Ruapehu) to protect and preserve the mountains for Ngāti Tūwharetoa, other iwi (tribes) and all New Zealanders.  The intention of the tuku was to enter into a partnership with the Crown, at the time Queen Victoria of England, to ensure the continued protection of Tongariro.

By 1894, legal ownership of the sacred mountain peaks increased significantly from the original 2,640 hectare tuku into a 79,596 hectare surrounding area vested solely in the Crown.  This act by the Crown began a process whereby the authority of Ngāti Tūwharetoa over the taonga (treasured heritage) in the Tongariro National Park being greatly reduced. 



In 1993, Tongariro National Park was inscribed on the World Heritage List under the revised criteria describing cultural landscapes – the first in the world to hold Dual World Heritage classification.