Come and explore the region and discover for yourself the fascinating history and culture of the Ruapehu region.
Ruapehu History Overview
The Ruapehu region enjoys a history rich in cultural heritage, from the early arrival of the Maori to the later settlement and resulting influence of the European settlers.
Mount Ruapehu, a still active volcano, is steeped in Maori legend and harsh volcanic activity. It's last major eruption occurred in 2006.
Tongariro became New Zealand's first national park, when Te Heuheu Tukino IV, the Paramount Chief of local Maori tribe Ngati Tuwharetoa, gifted the sacred peaks of Mount Ruapehu, Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe to the people of New Zealand in September 1887.
Mount Ruapehu is one of the world's most active volcanoes. Recent major eruptions occurred in 1895, 1945, 1995, 1996 and 2006.
The 1945 eruption had far reaching effects, resulting in the loss of 151 lives on December 24th, 1953. When the eruption occurred the crater lake was emptied, and the outlet dammed. Over time the crater refilled and the dam collapsed causing a lahar (mudflow and water) in the Whangaehu River. The lahar undermined the Tangiwai railway bridge piers, and the bridge collapsed when an express train crossed it.
Through 1995 and 1996 Mount Ruapehu erupted several times closing the skifields and occasionally the airports. The possibility of a major lahar occurring again was recognised as the crater lake outlet became blocked once more in 1996 by volcanic ash. Authorities are constantly monitoring the volcano and determining measures of safely controlling the situation, should the dam brake again.
Information cited from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Ruapehu)
Tongariro National Park
Tongariro National Park covers a little less than 80,000 hectares. The area has great cultural significance for Maori people, and is recognized by UNESCO as one of more than 800 World Heritage sites.
In 1887 the Maori chief Te Heu Heu Tukino IV (Horonuku) showed great foresight by gifting three large volcanic mountains and the surrounding land to the Crown for preservation as a reserve for all people to enjoy.
The three magnificent volcanoes—Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro—are very much alive, with Ruapehu erupting as recently as 2006.
The near-perfect conical shape of Ngauruhoe was the basis for Mount Doom in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.
The Bridge to Nowhere
The Bridge to Nowhere is the unofficial flagship of Whanganui National Park, an iconic symbol for New Zealand adventure tourism and a major visitor destination on the Whanganui Journey.
It is still used as a trampers' bridge at the southern access point to the Mangapurua Valley.
It was constructed in the mid 1930s to provide road access to the lower and middle valley farms known as the Mangapurua Valley Soldiers Settlement.
By the time it was completed these areas of the Mangapurua Valley were deserted, the bridge rarely used and the construction of the road to the Whanganui River abandoned.
The Bridge to Nowhere can be accessed by a gentle 40 minute walk from the Mangapurua Landing (Whanganui River) or by a two day tramp from Whakahoro Hut (lower Retaruke Valley) via the Kaiwhakauka and Mangapurua Valleys.
Useful Ruapehu Links
To help plan your Ruapehu holiday choose from the main categories below:
- Ruapehu Accommodation
- Ruapehu Tours
- Ruapehu Attractions
- Ruapehu Transport
- Ruapehu Cuisine and Dining
- Ruapehu Shopping
- Ruapehu Visitor Information
Ruapehu Region Information
Key information and facts about the Ruapehu region.
Major activities and attractions in the Ruapehu region.