Photo Blog: Tawhai & Mounds @ Tongariro NP

Note: I traveled to New Zealand in August 2013, but write in present tense so you'll feel like you're right here with me on my solo adventure.


I did two other shorter walks while in Tongariro National Park: Mounds Walk and Tawhai Falls Walk. They were more like quick jaunts than anything else, but nice just the same. Both are located on the side of State Highway 48 headed toward Whakapapa Village before the Whakapapa Visitor Centre.

Tawhai Falls Walk is on the left with a small lot to park your vehicle. A gravel path takes you to the falls that tumbles over an ancient lava flow. It's about a 20-minute walk.

A nicely constructed perch from which to view Tawhai Falls from above.

A nicely constructed perch from which to view Tawhai Falls from above.

Tawhai Falls drops over ancient lava flows.

Tawhai Falls drops over ancient lava flows.

A shot of the falls further downstream. You can easily scramble over rocks to reach the side of the stream.

A shot of the falls further downstream. You can easily scramble over rocks to reach the side of the stream.

A cloud enshrouded Mt. Ngauruhoe visible from the parking lot.

A cloud enshrouded Mt. Ngauruhoe visible from the parking lot.

Mounds Walk is further up the road toward Whakapapa Village on the right. Just pull onto the side near the sign; there's ample space to park safely. The gravel path takes you through some shrubs with a trickle of a stream barely visible through the thick ground cover.

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I wonder why this is called "Mounds Walk" then see this plaque that explains the history of the area and the meaning behind the name. A set of steps takes you up onto a platform from which you can see 360 degrees—and see the mounds.

I wonder why this is called "Mounds Walk" then see this plaque that explains the history of the area and the meaning behind the name. A set of steps takes you up onto a platform from which you can see 360 degrees—and see the mounds.

The plaque explains that an avalanche down Mt Ruapehu's northern side (seen in the distance) thousands of years ago pushed debris down to where Whakapapa Village now stands. It slowed down at that point, but continued to slowly spread out burying rubble up to 40 feet thick that came to form the mounds—a new landscape feature in the area. This lookout is atop a mound, and looking around, other mounds are visible as well. Got it!

The plaque explains that an avalanche down Mt Ruapehu's northern side (seen in the distance) thousands of years ago pushed debris down to where Whakapapa Village now stands. It slowed down at that point, but continued to slowly spread out burying rubble up to 40 feet thick that came to form the mounds—a new landscape feature in the area. This lookout is atop a mound, and looking around, other mounds are visible as well. Got it!

A neighboring mound with a "cherry" on top.

A neighboring mound with a "cherry" on top.

I really wish I could stay longer in Tongariro, however, I need to start backtracking to Rotorua in order to check out other spots I'd missed due to the rainy weather, namely, Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland and Skyline Rotorua. I'm excited to continue my journey, but have absolutely fallen in love with the peace and solitude I've experienced at this national park. One day I'll return. And who knows, I may just take on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing!