The Tongariro National Park sits right in the middle of New Zealand's North Island. The closest city to the park is Taupo, but it's easily accessible by road or rail from other parts of the North Island. Here's how to get to the Tongariro National Park.
Many travelers to New Zealand hire a car so they can get to remote places easily. The Tongariro National Park is certainly one such remote place! But, it's ringed by highways, so is accessible from the north, south, east, and west. Most travelers are likely to be coming from the north (Auckland, Tauranga, Rotorua, or Taupo) or the south (Wellington), as these are also popular spots on travel itineraries. The Tongariro National Park is about 1.5 hours' drive from Taupo, the nearest city. It's about a 4.5 hour drive from Auckland, or a 3.5 hour drive from Wellington.
While New Zealand's roads are generally in good condition, it's important to check weather conditions before planning a road trip to the Tongariro National Park, especially in winter. The roads around Tongariro are often closed due to snowfall in the winter and even the spring.
Travelers who don't have their own wheels can take a long-distance bus to the towns of Ohakune or National Park within the Tongariro National Park. You can get a direct service from Auckland, Wellington, Palmerston North, or Hamilton, but from smaller towns and cities around the North Island (including Taupo and Rotorua) you'll have to transit via another city.
Even direct buses to Tongariro potentially take longer than self-driving, but you can enjoy the view without worrying about watching the road. The buses are reasonably comfortable, and make scheduled comfort and meal stops. It's a good idea to book tickets in advance.
Ohakune and National Park in the Tongariro National Park are connected by rail to Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, Palmerston North, and a handful of other smaller towns via the Northern Explorer train. This service runs three times a week, and connects Auckland and Wellington. It's a very scenic journey, and is popular with travelers. The trains are equipped with bathrooms, a dining car, and an open viewing car, so are generally more comfortable than traveling by bus.