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Volcano Traditions - Roadside Stories

Volcano Traditions - Roadside Stories


Desert Road, Waiouru

A Manatū Taonga audio guide to the legends and geothermal activity of the Central North Island's Volcanic Plateau. Check out the Ministry for Culture and Heritage's audio guide in the image carousel above.

The central North Island peaks of Ngāuruhoe, Ruapehu and Tongariro -- dramatically visible from the Desert Road -- are active volcanoes, part of the Pacific 'ring of fire'. One version of a Māori tradition tells of a battle among the mountains for the love of beautiful Mt Pīhanga, while another describes how the priest Ngātoroirangi, exploring the area, was caught in freezing weather and called to his sisters to send fire from their homeland, Hawaiki.

Tongariro area,

Battle of the mountains,

Historic volcanic activity,

Geothermal areas associated with Te Hoata and Te Pupu,

Tongariro mountains gifted to Crown,

Te Arawa explorers,

Archival audio sourced from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives, Sound files may not be reused without permission from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives (Reference number CD 2490, track 1116).

Roadside Stories are a series of audio guides to places of interest on major road trips in New Zealand. Each guide tells the story of an attraction along the way -- its people, its history, its cultural and natural significance. For more information about Roadside Stories visit

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