Kiwis are justly proud of our network of National Parks and enjoy the rich experiences that are on offer when out of the suburbs and immersed in nature in these wilderness areas.

Tongariro National Park, the very first National Park in New Zealand, and just the fourth in the world was created 132 years’ ago tomorrow.

In February 1887 newspapers reported Ngati Tuwharetoa’s proposal to ‘gift’ the Crown the mountaintops of Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu as the basis for a national park. What the iwi actually intended was that they and the New Zealand government would take joint responsibility for protecting the sacred maunga.

The initiative reflected Ngati Tuwharetoa’s ongoing concern for its sacred mountains. During the 1880s various claimants were seeking land around Lake Taupo. Because Tuwharetoa chief Horonuku had joined both Waikato and Te Kooti in fighting against the Crown, some claimants believed the Crown would treat the Taupo blocks as rebel land. Horonuku could see that he might lose the land. On the advice of his son-in-law, the politician Lawrence Marshall Grace, on 23 September 1887 he signed a deed with the government that ensured the mountaintops could never be sold.

These 6518 acres (2638 ha) became the nucleus of the proposed Tongariro National Park […]

The park has grown over the intervening years to now be 79,596 hectares, over 30 times the original size. It attracts approximately one million people each year with more visitors in summer than winter due to the excellent hiking opportunities.