Mt. Ruaphue and the surrounding valley was visually stunning. There is a lot of moss at Mt. Ruaphue and it is endangered and very old. It is is the tallest mountain in the North Island and very sacred lands to the local Maori Iwi (tribes). Scenes from The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey was filmed at Mt. Ruaphue. They had to construct a scaffolding to protect the moss and other plants.
Maori Legend of Mounts Ruapehu and Taranaki (Egmont)