The highlight of the trip goes to the Tongariro Crossing! 19.4km hike with some pretty steep hills across volcanic terrain with some of the most sensational scenery. Emerald pools, geothermal activity, walking through a crater… all in a days work in NZ!
I can definitely recommend the hike. I would advise walking outside of peak times otherwise it can be busy. We hiked it early March, which gave us a compromise between good weather and less people.
I can also recommend staying in Ruapehu, a quaint little town near the start of the walk. A few good restaurants around with reasonable prices. We ate in the Station Cafe and had a couple of beers in the Park Hotel where we were staying – great views of the mountains from the front deck!