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Viaducts of Tongariro National Park

As the Northern Explorer train navigates its way around the foothills of Mount Ruapehu, a series of three steepling viaducts bridge the deep ravines carved by rivers forming on the mountain slopes: the Manganui-o-te-AoMakatote, and Hapuawhenua (from the left, this is the order they are pictured above).

The 34m tall Manganui-o-te-Ao Viaduct was the last piece of the North Island Main Trunk (NIMT) railway to be constructed. Completed in 1908, it finally connected Auckland to Wellington by train, and an obelisk on the western bank just north of the viaduct marks the spot where the opening ceremony took place.

The tallest of the of the three viaducts is the Makatote Viaduct, which is just a couple of minutes north of Manganui-o-te-Ao Viaduct. At 79m tall and with a span of 262m, it is also the second largest on the Northern Explorer's route.

The Hapuawhenua Viaduct, a little north of Ohakune, was replaced in 1987 with a new 51m high and 414m long concrete viaduct. This magnificent curved viaduct is a photo hotspot, both from on the train and the old viaduct which is now part of the Old Coach Road walking and cycling trail.

Stroll outside for some volcanic views

South of Ohakune, the views of Ruapehu from the train are tremendous. On a clear day this immense, broad, volcano dominates the skyline and captivates the attention of all aboard. This is an ideal opportunity to stroll to the Open-air viewing carriage to breathe in the atmosphere - it can be a genuinely momentous occasion. 

Choose your Northern Explorer experience

Choose from a day trip on the Northern Explorer train, a short break to Tongariro, or a full 17-day tour. All of these travel experiences include the Northern Explorer journey.