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Ngā kōrero nō nehera


Tongariro is the Warrior Mountain of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, situated at the heart of the Central Plateau in the North Island of Aotearoa. Tongariro has three peaks which include Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu.

The Battle of the mountains is an ancient telling of the deep love between Tongariro and Pihanga – the only female mountain this in area – and how suitors to her hand fought for her and eventually left this area.


A long, long time ago, before humanity existed, a battle raged between the mountains that once occupied this area. they fought for the hand of Pihanga. It was a vicious and merciless battle with no holds barred, everything was at stake, but also everything to gain – for love.

The majestic Tongariro was wounded, almost to his death. After many days and nights, Tongariro emerged victorious. He had defeated the other mountains, winning the right to the hand of Pihanga forever. Tongariro warned the defeated mountains to leave his territory before sunrise, for that’s when they would freeze into position for the rest of time.

  • Whakaari (White Island) made it out to sea in the Bay of Plenty.

  • Putauaki (Edgecumbe) made it to Te Teko in the Bay of Plenty.

  • Taranki (Egmont) ran to the West Coast.

  • Tauhara, who kept looking back at Pihanga, only made it to the other side of Lake Taupo.

Tongariro and Pihanga exist hand in hand, in love and bound together for all eternity. The Ngāti Hikairo ki Tongariro people uphold guardianship of Tongariro.

Naming Tongariro

The Ngāti Tūwharetoa people are descendants of the powerful tohunga, Ngatoro-i-rangi, who navigated to Aotearoa (New Zealand) in the great waka ‘Te Arawa”.  After the long journey from Hawaiki, Ngatoro-i-rangi and his followers made landfall at Maketu, on the east cape of the North Island. They then made their way inland to claim new lands and subsequently arrived in what is now the Taupo district.

Struggling with fatigue and cold, Ngatoro-i-rangi climbed to the top of Tongariro. Weakened with the climbing and cold and near death, he called to his sisters in distant Hawaiki, ‘I am seized by the cold wind to the south, send me fire!’ The name Tongariro comes from ‘tonga’ (south wind) and ‘riro’ (seized).

Calling for three baskets of fire, only one arrived. After warming himself he threw the remains into the side of the mountain. This area is now called Ketetahi (one basket). The hot springs there were traditionally used for healing and the area has special significance to local Maori today.

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