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On the central North Island volcanoes, a long and complex interplay of eruptions and erosion has produced a remarkable variety of climbing terrain. To be high on these mountains, which rise without peer in the very centre of the island, is to enjoy and be immersed in a unique landscape that can appear almost as a world of its own, often floating serene and adrift above the surrounding clouds.
Of the two main massifs, Tongariro-Ngauruhoe has less to offer the alpine climber, although in winter it is not without challenges. Ruapehu, in contrast, has 10 peaks over 2500m and extensive remnant glaciers and icefields; it is the focus of attention for many North Island alpinists.
Ruapehu has proved to be a superlative skier’s mountain, and away from the two main ski areas there is superbly varied and interesting touring terrain.
The style of rock climbing available within Tongariro National Park can be broadly described as traditional adventure climbing. Although a few routes do have bolts for protection, the vast majority of climbs require natural protection.

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Most content in this section of the site was previously published in Tongariro (NZAC, 2006) by Richard Thomson.