Lake Taupo and Tongariro National Park, North Island
In the center of the North Island, a few kilometers from glittering Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest lake, Tongariro National Park is a dual World Heritage Site due to its spectacular volcanic features and its importance to the Maori culture. In 1887, Maori chief Te Heuheu Tukino IV gifted the volcanic peaks of Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, and part of Ruapehu to the people of New Zealand in order to preserve this sacred land. One of the oldest national parks in the world, Tongariro is a land of dramatic beauty with towering volcanoes, turquoise lakes, arid plateaus, alpine meadows, and hot springs. A highlight of the park is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, one of the most popular day walks in the country.