The air and soil temperatures in Tongariro National Park change dramatically with the changing seasons; the result is a wide variety of habitats. Anything that lives in the Park must be hardy and well adapted to life in such an extreme environment.
As well as continually changing air and soil conditions, plant life also has to contend with volcanic activity, with ash, pumice, lava and fire, which can destroy entire landscapes. In the event of an eruption, it can take a very long time for plants to re-establish themselves especially if the soil has been covered with lava.
Beech forests once covered the northern slopes of Mount Tongariro, but the result of multiple eruptions and subsequent fires, means only red Tussocks and small shrubs fare on the upper slopes while the low level forest is made up of Totara trees.
In summer, in the damper areas on the northern slopes of the mountain, above Ketetahi, you can find Buttercups and the large Mountain Daisy flowers.
A bird specie called Pipits nest in the tussocks and are often seen looking for cicadas and grasshoppers as prey. In the forest on the northern slopes of the mountain you may see a species of bird called the North Island Robin.
It is important to keep to the marked track as things take a long time to grow on the mountain. The soils are fragile and the balance of life can be easily disturbed.
Books and Maps of Interest for Tongariro National Park