In 1993 Tongariro National Park became the first property to be inscribed on the World Heritage List under the revised cultural criteria describing cultural landscapes. The mountains at the heart of the park have cultural and religious significance for the Maori people and symbolize the spiritual links between this community and its environment. The park contains active and extinct volcanoes, a diverse range of ecosystems and highly scenic landscapes.
The town of Taupo is renowned for its majestic lake (Lake Taupo), which portrays a unique environment set against a backdrop of lush green hills and encompassed by a vast landscape of unspoiled forestry. Lake Taupo is 160m deep and fills a volcanic crater covering 619 kms. It was created by volcanic activity only 2000 years ago, a fact that is recorded in Chinese history.
Maori lore says the Bay of Plenty was the landing place of several of the great Polynesian canoes that journeyed from Hawaiki, including Te Arawa, Mataatua, Takitimu and Tokomaru. Fighting in the New Zealand Wars spilled over into Bay of Plenty in the 1860s, leaving several battle sites and other places to interest present-day visitors.
Find out more about the history of the Bay of Plenty:
Explore the Bay of Plenty
Te Porere contains the earthworks of a Maori fortification built by the prophet and warrior Te Kooti and is the site of the last major engagement of the New Zealand Wars
In 1870 the Armed Constabulary built a redoubt here for defence against Te Kooti. There was never any fighting here, and it was abandoned in 1885. A pumice magazine building stands in one corner of the redoubt.
Opotaka kainga (settlement) was one of a series of similar villages on the lake edge of Rotoaira. Maori occupation had begun by the end of the 15th century, but much of the area remained unoccupied, because the area was not an easy place to produce food. At Opotaka today, you can still see storage pits and the remains of the house sites, and get views over Lakes Taupo and Rotoaira.
"Must do" checklist
Elms Mission House, Tauranga
The Rotorua Bathhouse (former), Rotorua
Huka Falls, Taupo
Tongariro - visit the Chateau, walk, ski