Myself and the family decided to head south to the Tongariro National Park for a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of Auckland. It seemed like a good idea at the time but 7 hours into normally a 4.5 hour journey my good idea was fast turning bad. We were perhaps a little ambitious with 2 month old Oscar and 2.5 year old Charles. I have been to the Tongariro area a few times but usually in the ski season. Once we arrived in National Park our abnormally long journey and road grumbles quickly faded away with the first lungful of Tongariro mountain air.
You forget how spectacular the World Heritage Listed Tongariro National Park is. In parts desolate yet strangely alluring, maybe it was something to do with Mt Doom which was beckoning in the form of Mt Ngauruhoe – the mountain used in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and next to the highest mountain in the North Island Mt Ruapehu, also home to the two largest ski-fields in the North Island; Whakapapa and Turoa.
20 mins further on and we would be in Ohakune and our accommodation for the next two nights at the Powderhorn Chateau. I have fond memories of Ohakune in the winter time so it was nice to return late summer and see it in a different light. The Powderhorn has been around for a few years now and really looks the part at the bottom of the Turoa Mountain Rd. Inside you’ll find a roaring log fire (or two) friendly staff, a heated pool and comfortable rooms ideal for a weekend getaway. We settled into ‘The Mansion’ which is a self contained apartment with in the Powderhorn Chateau comprised of 4 rooms, two bathrooms and a separate kitchen and dining area. Perfect for a family or group of friends. There’s an in-house restaurant removing the need to venture out which suited us fine.
The next few days was spent touring around the region, showing our son snow for the first time, walking along rivers and generally relaxing. We enjoyed our journey into middle earth and would return, in fact we’ll be skiing there in July. I personally think the Tongariro National Park area is an underrated destination and there is an enormous amount of outdoor activities to be experienced from fishing, climbing, walking, mountain biking and hunting aside from the obvious skiing in winter. A few key draw cards would be the Tongariro Crossing often referred to as ‘the best one walk in New Zealand’, The 42 traverse mountain bike ride and the Old Coach Road, which is now part of the New Zealand National Cycle way and finishes near The Powderhorn Chateau Ohakune making it an ideal base to explore this unique destination.
Later in the month we’ll be packing up the kids again and heading down to Knapdale Eco Lodge in Gisbourne for a taste of good living.
Tony Townley is a luxury travel specialist and owner of Luxury Adventures. Talk to us about planning your next visit to New Zealand, Australia or the South Pacific Islands.