Bring your mountain bike or 4WD to Tongariro Forest, or come to simply observe the multitude of threatened species residing in the 'forest of the future'.

Place overview


  • Camping
  • Four wheel driving
  • Horse riding
  • Hunting
  • Mountain biking
  • Quad and trail biking
  • Walking and tramping

Find things to do and places to stay Tongariro Forest Conservation Area

About this place

Nature and conservation

Tongariro Forest was extensively milled for much of the 20th century. It was protected in the 1980s following protest against proposed conversion to farming and plantation forest.

It is now a home to a number of threatened plant and wildlife species, including woodrose (Dactylanthus taylorii), two wetland orchids, North Island brown kiwi, kaka, falcon, whio/blue duck, kereru and both long and short-tailed bats.

Tongariro Forest hosts one of the five kiwi sanctuaries in New Zealand. DOC monitors populations of two of New Zealand's special birds, North Island brown kiwi and whio/blue duck in the forest area.

History and culture

Between 1903 and 1978, State Forest 42 supported 43 timber mills. Hundreds of millions of board feet of timber were extracted before a dwindling supply of accessible trees saw the decline of the mills.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the New Zealand Forest Service proposed to have much of the Tongariro Forest converted to farmland and pine plantations.

A strong campaign from local community groups wanting the area preserved as a park for conservation and recreation, as well as protection of the town of Owhango’s water supply catchment, saw all remaining native forest transferred to the Department of Conservation in 1987.

Participating groups in the campaign included Federated Farmers, Royal Forest & Bird Society, Rifle Rod & Gun, the local tramping club, Rotarians, and Borough and County Councils.

Through the kiwi sanctuary, pest and predator control and native regeneration, this is the ‘forest of the future’.

Getting there

From SH47: Kapoors Road (for the 42 Traverse), John McDonald Road

From SH4: Owhango township, across Whakapapa river bridge


Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 7 892 3729
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   Whakapapa Village
State Highway 48
Mount Ruapehu
Postal Address:   PO Box 71029
Whakapapa Village
Mount Ruapehu 3951
Turangi Office
Phone:   +64 7 384 7106
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   3 Town Centre
Turangi 3334
Postal Address:   Private Bag 2
Turangi 3353
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