History of Turangi

Spanning more than two decades, the building of the Tongariro Hydro Power Project is the reason Turangi exists today.

The Turangi town centre mall, streets, and houses were built, complete with underground power cables, in 1962-1964 to house the hundreds of construction workers and their families employed to work on the ambitious Tokaanu hydro power station scheme.

Fly fishing on Tongariro River


Turangi was an established settlement with what is now Taupahi Road, the main state highway. The Tongariro River had been attracting anglers from all over the world for many decades and famously the Queen Mother paid a visit in the 1920's.

The main business centre, before the town mall was built in Turangi, was at Tokaanu and for a time there were a group of shops on State Highway One (SH1) by Tongariro Bridge Lodge Motel.

At the time of construction of the new SH1, a tunnel was put under the road for people on foot to get from the town to the river side. It remains a quirky invention of a clever engineer, reminding people of the historical tunnelling aspect of the town – with its extensive underground power station 15 kilometres south on SH1 - one of only two underground power stations in New Zealand.

In 1983 when the power project wound up, the council of the day decided tourism was the way forward for the town and proceeded with plans to build an Information Centre (i-SITE), which still stands proudly at the entrance to Turangi.

In the last two years, as part of the council’s revitalisation project, the entrance way to the town has been upgraded and looks more welcoming to visitors and those passing through. The much anticipated skatepark, located by the Genesis Energy Aquatic Centre, is a resounding success with local children. The next stage of the project is set to get underway with beautifying improvements to the library end of the town centre.

To find out more about what Turangi has on offer, pop into the Turangi i-SITE and have a chat with one of the friendly staff members.

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