National Park

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Volcanoes as neighbours

Whether you're heading to National Park for a summer or winter holiday, you'll find a host of adventure and outdoor activities to suit all ages and abilities. The village is in the heart of a natural wonderland, bordered by the World Heritage Tongariro National Park and its three active volcanoes to the east, and the Whanganui National Park and Whanganui River to the west.

In the warmer months you can tramp, bike, raft or fish. The Tongariro Crossing  is a popular adventure for visitors and locals alike, having been described as one of the best day-hikes in the country. The climb can be steep and the weather unpredictable, but views across the central plateau and to neighbouring volcanoes are well worth the effort.

Between July and November the peaks of Mount Ruapehu are snow-covered and a hub for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. Whakapapa ski field offers 675 metres of vertical drop, more than 30 groomed trails as well as steep chutes, couloirs and superb off-piste skiing.

Accommodation in National Park

Whatever your preference and budget, you'll find a suitable place to stay at National Park. The village itself has a selection of lodges, motels, backpackers and bed and breakfasts to choose from. If you're looking for a place with a homey feel, Pukenui Lodge is a great option with amazing views of the Whakapapa ski fields, cosy rooms and warm hospitality.

Alternatively you can head to Whakapapa Village at the base of Mt Ruapehu, approximately a 15 minute drive away from National Park Village, convenient for those heading up to the ski field during winter. The elegant Chateau Tongariro offer a luxurious stay in a historical setting, while the nearby Skotel offers a range of accommodation options for those with a lower budget. Transfers and tours can be arranged at most National Park accommodation providers, so a car isn’t essential during your stay.

Getting there by train

National Park is approximately half way between Wellington and Auckland, so you will arrive or depart National Park station 1.15pm. Most accommodation providers will provide transfers to and from the station.

Our award-winning scenic carriages ensure your trip is one of optimum comfort and you get every opportunity to see the sights. The open air viewing deck is perfect if you want some fresh air while you snap some pictures, and the on board cafe has a great selection of snacks, meals and beverages for all tastes.

If you're travelling from Auckland, the Northern Explorer travels southbound on Monday, Thursday and Saturday at 7:50am. Those heading up from Wellington can travel northbound on Tuesday, Friday or Sunday at 7:55am.

"Fantastic journey from Auckland to National Park. Loved the scenery, the train and the staff were very friendly."


Newark upon Trent, UK

Northern Explorer Timetable

The Northern Explorer operates 6 days a week and departs Auckland on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Departs Wellington on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.

Auckland - WellingtonWellington - Auckland
Auckland depart 7.50 am   Wellington depart 7.55 am
Papakura depart 8.40 am Paraparaumu depart 8.45 am
Hamilton depart 10.15 am Palmerston North depart 10.00 am
Otorohanga (Waitomo) depart 10.54 am
Ohakune depart 12.45 pm
National Park depart 1.15 pm
National Park depart
1.15 pm
Ohakune depart
1.45 pm Otorohanga (Waitomo) depart
3.45 pm
Palmerston North depart 4.20 pm Hamilton depart
4.30 pm
Paraparaumu depart 5.30 pm Papakura depart 5.55 pm
Wellington arrive 6.25 pm Auckland arrive 6.50 pm


Please note:

  • Timetables shown are subject to change at short notice.
  • Heat restrictions may cause delays during the summer season.
  • The train may depart intermediate stations earlier if all booked passengers are onboard.
  • Check-in is 20 minutes prior to departure time shown above.
  • The service doesn't operate on a Wednesday.