Walking on Volcanoes: Exploring New Zealand’s Volcanic Landscapes

New Zealand's position on the Pacific Ring of Fire has sculpted some of the world's most accessible and fascinating volcanic landscapes. From the active volcanic cones in the North Island to the extinct volcanoes in the South, this guide offers an adventurous journey through these primeval terrains, highlighting the beauty and power of Earth's geothermal activity.

1. Tongariro National Park – Dual World Heritage Site:

Dive into the heart of the North Island where Tongariro National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Regarded as one of the best one-day hikes in the world, it traverses the dramatic scenery of Mt. Tongariro and its active craters, emerald lakes, and steam vents.

2. White Island – New Zealand's Most Active Volcano:

Embark on a guided tour to White Island (Whakaari), an active marine volcano accessible by boat or helicopter. Visitors can witness roaring steam vents, boiling pits, and a surreal, moon-like surface. Due to its active status, ensure to check current activity levels and access restrictions before planning your visit.

3. Mount Tarawera – A Historic Eruption:

For a unique blend of adventure and history, explore Mount Tarawera, the site of the devastating 1886 eruption that dramatically altered the landscape. Guided tours offer insights into the event's impact on local Maori communities and the chance to walk along the volcano's crater rim.

4. Auckland Volcanic Field – Urban Volcanoes:

Discover the volcanic history of New Zealand's largest city, Auckland, which sits atop an active volcanic field. Hike up Mount Eden or One Tree Hill for panoramic views of the city and insights into the area's volcanic past.

5. The Banks Peninsula – Ancient Volcanic Origins:

Explore the Banks Peninsula near Christchurch, formed by two ancient volcanoes. The harbours of Lyttelton and Akaroa are remnants of volcanic craters, offering beautiful coastal walks, kayaking, and the opportunity to see Hector's dolphins.

Safety Tips for Volcano Exploration:

  • Always heed local advice and check for any access restrictions or warnings before visiting active volcanic sites.
  • Wear appropriate hiking gear, including sturdy boots and layers for changing conditions.
  • Consider hiring a guide for the best and safest experience, especially in areas of geothermal activity.


Walking on New Zealand's volcanoes offers a unique perspective on the country's dynamic landscape and geological history. Whether you're standing on the crater rim of an active volcano or exploring ancient lava flows, the experience is a profound reminder of the planet's power and beauty. Remember to explore responsibly, respecting both the environment and the safety guidelines.

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